Uneasy lies her tiara wearin’ noggin
OTTAWA – Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson announced Friday that her office is cancelling a number of programs and projects after Parliament voted to cut her budget by more than $400,000 earlier this month.
Clarkson’s office said it was eliminating an outreach program that encourages Canadians to nominate their fellow citizens for national honours, such as the Order of Canada.
Her office will also cut back on training projects and postpone plans to purchase new office equipment.
Earlier in December, the House of Commons voted 171-120 to uphold an all-party parliamentary committee’s move to trim $419,000 from Clarkson’s $19.1-million official annual budget.
As part of the announced cuts, Clarkson also scrapped the annual winter party for parliamentarians, diplomats and the Parliament Hill press corps.
New Democrat MP Pat Martin, who sits on the parliamentary committee that first recommended chopping the budget, said he thinks Clarkson was sending a message to the MPs by calling off the party.
“I think the journalists and MPs can suffer the consequences of not having so lavish a program this year,” he said.
“The Governor General it seems has done her best to comply with the wishes of the parliamentary committee and at the same time sent a clear message to those that implemented the change that she’s not terribly pleased.”
But Lucie Brosseau, spokesperson at Rideau Hall, said cancelling the winter party was not vindictive.
“Absolutely not. We had very little room to manoeuvre,” she said. “We carefully looked at every line of the budget to see where things could be cut. We had to cut on things that cost the most money and that type of reception costs $60,000.”
The Governor General’s annual salary is $106,175, following an increase in 2002. It was $3,500 less when Clarkson took office in 1999.
Total government expenditure related to Rideau Hall was $41 million in 2003, including costs billed to the Department of National Defence, RCMP and other bodies.
Critics have accused Clarkson of spending too much in carrying out her ceremonial post.
A $5.3-million tour of circumpolar countries in 2003, in which the Governor General and her husband were accompanied by a retinue of Canadian artists, drew particular ire and led to the cancellation of a second leg of the trip.