Instead of taking a $50-a-day train to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last year, Liberal finance minister Chrystia Freeland stayed in Edinburgh and billed taxpayers over $3,000 for a private driver to get her to the conference.
Documents acquired by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) reveal that Freeland employed the luxury car service St Andrews Chauffeurs to shuttle herself, Deputy Minister of Finance Michael Sbia, former policy director Leslie Church and senior communications director Bronwen Jervis to Glasgow.
The trip between the two cities takes about an hour and a half by car but only 49 minutes by train.
“Did Freeland forget to check Google Maps?” asked CTF federal director Franco Terrazzano. “Taxpayers shouldn’t be billed thousands of dollars extra because a minister stays in Edinburgh when the actual conference is in Glasgow.”
“Here’s a crazy idea: the next time Freeland wants to attend an international conference, she should try staying in the same city instead of billing taxpayers for a luxury chauffeur service.”
“And why did the minister and her staff drive when they could have taken trains that were cheaper and faster?” added Terrazzano.
A first-class ticket on a direct train only costs $50 a day, and around 121 trains run between the two cities per day.
Freeland’s department has not commented on why she and her team decided to stay in Edinburgh instead of Glasgow. It also didn’t say why they opted for a luxury chauffeur service instead of the train.
“It’s extremely disappointing that the finance minister is taking taxpayers for a ride like this,” said Terrazzano. “Freeland is supposed to be protecting the public purse, not wasting tax dollars on luxury shuttles because she didn’t stay in the same city as the conference.”
Other records reveal that taxpayers paid a total of $42,000 for Freeland’s three-day stay in Scotland. Her flight alone cost $11,573, followed by a stay at a $740-a-night hotel. Canadians were also billed for the flights and lodging of her staff members.
As reported by True North Canada’s delegation was the largest sent to COP26 by a G7 nation, including the host nation United Kingdom.