Don Martin: The GG retirement package reeks of entitlement and extravagance
Being Governor General means living the dream of super elite status in Canada.
It comes with the biggest house in Ottawa, so big the prime minister is currently a tenant on the estate grounds.
There’s a salary of $270,000, even though the taxpayer covers all expenses mere mortals have to pay themselves.
Perks include private aircraft on call, chauffeured cars everywhere, a chef in the kitchen, clothing, support staff galore and a less-than-onerous work schedule, although former governor general David Johnston was the workaholic exception.
All it takes to do the job is a hearty stomach for endless “God Save the Queen” singalongs, the stamina to smile through migraine-inducing diplomatic dinners, the odd bill-signing ceremony and the ability to drone out a Throne Speech every few years.
But it turns out that the real dream is life after you leave Rideau Hall.
An obscure line item in a thick pile of spending documents, discovered by an intrepid National Post journalist this week, has revealed an outrageously generous budget for a life of retirement perk-claiming under the guise of “office expenses.”
There are no public receipts, no apparent definition on what qualifies as “professional services” or what constitutes legitimate “travel and accommodation,” which probably means Maui in January.
This claim never would’ve been discovered if the 1999-2005 winner of the lifestyle lottery, Adrienne Clarkson, hadn’t claimed over $100,000 last year to make it a compulsory public disclosure in spending documents.
Lest we forget, the five-year job of governor general automatically gets a fully-indexed government pension, which even MPs can only claim after six years of service.
And taxpayers are often on the hook to fund vanity projects for retiring Governors-General. In Clarkson’s case, it an obscure Institute for Canadian Citizenship, which filed a two-page financial report this year showing the government continues to fund half of its total annual income of $3.4 million.
All told the Governor General retirement package reeks of elitism, entitlement and extravagance in an era of low tolerance for such things. No wonder the Prime Minister muttered it would be reviewed, although that’s a far cry from changing the rules to put a necessary time limit on what is now taxpayer funding for life.
Naturally, Clarkson’s office says all this spending is a private matter. No it’s not. These are public dollars.
And just as naturally Clarkson is unavailable to justify her billings. She’s on a tour of Europe, no doubt racking up a future claim for office expenses.
That’s the Last Word.