More than $17,000 has been spent photographing Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna and her staff since the Liberals took office less than 10 months ago.
McKenna’s office points out that Conservative environment ministers who preceded her hired photographers too. They spent at least $99,000, but it was spread over eight years.
CTV News reported Monday that the minister’s office hired a photojournalist to shoot pictures of McKenna and her staff during the COP21 climate change conference in Paris in December. That cost taxpayers $6,792.91, according to her office.
(The department first told CTV News the amount was $6,662. Then it mistakenly said that figure was in Euros, which would have been $10,681. Finally, the department said the actual amount was $6,792.91).
It turns out it was only the priciest of 15 different events for which McKenna and her staff were photographed by contracted professionals, including:
- $3,200 for the GLOBE Summit sustainability conference in Vancouver
- $1,300 for a meeting with provincial environment ministers
- $900 for a meeting between McKenna and the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
McKenna said Tuesday that she was unaware of the cost of the Paris photographer and that her office is reviewing the policy under which it hired the photographer.
"As someone who uses social media actively, personally I think there are ways that we can reduce costs," she told reporters in Ottawa.
"We need to be mindful of the cost to taxpayers,” she added.
“I've instructed the department of Environment and Climate Change Canada to review the practices so that we can reduce the costs to Canadians.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about the practice at an announcement in Barrie, Ont., and he said that it is “certainly one that we are looking at as perhaps not the best use of public funds.”
NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice said Tuesday that his party is “quite sure it was not a good use of money.”
"You go to Paris, you want some souvenirs, take a picture with the Eiffel Tower, everybody can understand that,” he added. “But taxpayers money, thousands of dollars? That's ridiculous.”
With a report by CTV’s Senior Political Correspondent Glen McGregor
Below are two tables comparing the amount spent on photographers by the Liberals and Conservatives while in government.