When Conservatives decided to forgo parliamentary tradition and release their fall economic and fiscal update last month in Edmonton in front of business executives instead of in Ottawa before MPs, the party of "fiscal responsibility" coughed up plenty of cash for the dog and pony show.
The luncheon with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was "hosted by the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce" and included a question and answer session with James Rajotte, a Conservative MP from Edmonton and chair of the House of Commons Finance Committee.
According to a breakdown of costs released to PressProgress under the access to information law, the public tab for audio-visuals for Finance Minister's luncheon speech at the Westin Edmonton Hotel was $5,248.95.
Audio-visuals for Flaherty's media availability? A cool $1,568.45.
Add $6,791.35 for flights, hotel and hospitality for three civil servants in Ottawa to accompany Flaherty to Edmonton for the luncheon with business executives. This includes $4,123.06 in flights, a $1,632.93 hotel bill, $446.11 in other transportation costs, and $589.25 for meals and "incidentals" — for the one-day trip.
Toss in $1,806.66 in technical briefings for the media in Ottawa and Edmonton, and you land at $15,415.41. This does not include the travel costs for Flaherty and his staff to get to Edmonton.
Setting aside the dubious spin in the update about the government's fiscal record, none of these costs would have been necessary had Flaherty just briefed MPs in the House of Commons or before the Finance Committee. And we could have chalked one up for respect for Parliament.
But at least the government didn't buy $27 cups of coffee.
Photo: joeycoleman. Used under a Creative Commons BY-ND 2.0 licence.