John­ston to re­lease pub­lic re­port on ex­penses in­curred since re­tire­ment

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - NATIONAL NEWS - KRISTY KIRKUP

OT­TAWA — For­mer gov­er­nor gen­eral David John­ston will present a re­port in the next few weeks de­tail­ing the ex­penses he’s in­curred since leav­ing Rideau Hall, he said Tuesday, in con­trast to the con­fi­den­tial­ity cov­er­ing sim­i­lar ex­penses for his pre­de­ces­sor Adri­enne Clark­son.

John­ston, who did not com­ment di­rectly on Clark­son’s spend­ing, said on Par­lia­ment Hill on Tuesday that pub­lic re­spon­si­bil­i­ties con­tinue af­ter a gov­er­nor gen­eral leaves the job and the Cana­dian govern­ment has cho­sen a de­ci­sion made to cover some of the costs re­lated di­rectly to those du­ties.

But, he wel­comed pub­lic scru­tiny of his spend­ing.

“It is very im­por­tant for the pub­lic to take an in­ter­est in that to be sure the money is well spent,” John­ston told reporters, not­ing work can be done to make the process more open. “In my own case, we have just fin­ished the first year since I stepped down and we will present a re­port.”

John­ston, who was gov­er­nor gen­eral from Oc­to­ber 2010 un­til Oc­to­ber 2017, called the of­fice of the gov­er­nor gen­eral an im­por­tant demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tion when asked about the head­lines Clark­son’s spend­ing have gar­nered.

Clark­son, who left Rideau Hall in early 2005, has billed tax­pay­ers for more than $1 mil­lion in ex­penses since leav­ing the job, ac­cord­ing to pub­lic-ac­counts doc­u­ments. When a for­mer gov­er­nor gen­eral sub­mits bills of more than $100,000 in a year, his or her name is specif­i­cally in­cluded in an an­nual re­port to Par­lia­ment. Clark­son has passed that thresh­old nine times in 12 years, in­clud­ing in the most re­cent fis­cal year.

Ex­actly what the pay­ments cover is not dis­closed.

Clark­son de­fended the spend­ing in a Globe and Mail es­say pub­lished last week, say­ing the fi­nan­cial sup­port she has re­ceived is in keep­ing with what’s been ex­tended to her pre­de­ces­sors and suc­ces­sors.

“Post­gov­er­nor-gen­er­al­ship, I have con­tin­ued to par­tic­i­pate in pub­lic life in an ac­tive and mean­ing­ful way,” Clark­son wrote. “I be­lieve in pub­lic ser­vice. I al­ways have. It has been the joy of my life. Play­ing golf was not an op­tion.”

Clark­son also wrote that she ful­filled 182 com­mit­ments last year, many of them pub­lic.

“All of this came to me at the re­quest of Cana­di­ans,” she said. “I try to do as much as I can.”

The fed­eral govern­ment cre­ated the ex­penses pro­gram in 1979 to ac­knowl­edge that the life of a for­mer gov­er­nor-gen­eral would con­tinue to be lived in pub­lic ser­vice, she added.

“As with my pre­de­ces­sors, it was un­der­stood that I would be re­im­bursed, with proper jus­ti­fi­ca­tion and re­ceipts, for ad­min­is­tra­tive and re­search salaries, of­fice space and fur­ni­ture, pro­fes­sional ser­vices, travel and ac­com­mo­da­tion, when ap­pro­pri­ate,” she said. The ex­pense pay­ments are in ad­di­tion to their pen­sions.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said last Wed­nes­day that Canada’s gov­er­nors gen­eral de­serve con­tin­ued fi­nan­cial sup­port upon leav­ing of­fice but they need to be more trans­par­ent and ac­count­able for ex­penses.

“Th­ese are peo­ple who’ve stepped up and of­fered tremen­dous ser­vice to this coun­try but Cana­di­ans ex­pect a cer­tain level of trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity, and we’re go­ing to make sure we’re mov­ing for­ward in a thought­ful way,” he said.

SEAN KIL­PATRICK/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS For­mer gov­er­nor gen­eral David John­ston will present a re­port in the next few weeks de­tail­ing the ex­penses he’s in­curred since leav­ing Rideau Hall last year, he said Tuesday.

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