Wining and dining at Canada’s embassies abroad escaped the axe as the federal government grappled with across-the-board cuts in this year’s budget.
Former British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell is racking up the biggest hospitality tab so far this year.
In the first five months of 2012, the high commissioner to the United Kingdom has billed $67,026 on dinners, lunches, and cocktail receptions. He's also billed three tuxedo rentals at a cost of $600.
Campbell's total tab is nearly three times more than any other ambassador in the same period, according to figures posted online by Foreign Affairs under proactive disclosure rules.
But the department says the costs are in line with one of the largest Canadian missions abroad, reflecting the U.K.’s “importance to Canadian economic and security interests.”
“As such, the High Commission’s hospitality expenses are in line with the pivotal role it plays in promoting Canada’s economic and foreign policy priorities abroad,” spokesman Ian Trites told CBC News.
Canada’s ambassador in Tokyo, Jonathan Fried, has the second-highest tab, with expenses totalling $23,408.
Doer, Hearn among modest spenders
The top diplomat in Washington, Gary Doer, is among the more frugal ambassadors, spending just $2,682 on hospitality in the five-month period.
Former Conservative cabinet minister Loyola Hearn, now the ambassador in Ireland, is also among the more modest spenders, filing expenses worth $5,723. About half of that total was for cases of wine and freight fees, purchased to advance "advocacy to Canada's public policy."
Federal departments are grappling with cuts this year, but Foreign Affairs says the hospitality budget for cocktail receptions, dinners, breakfasts and other events hosted by ambassadors and other embassy officials will not be trimmed.
"The hospitality budgets have been preserved at current levels,” Trites said. “Hospitality is a necessity of the business of diplomacy, but we do so with the taxpayer top of mind. We continually assess whether we can do hospitality differently and in a more cost-effective manner."
Last fiscal year, spending on hospitality was $5,994,922, nearly on par with the previous year’s $6,115,460.
Top 10 Most Expensive MP Pensions
Welcome to the $3 million club. The following 10 MPs will each receive an estimated total lifetime pension of more than $3 million if they retire in 2019. All the <a href="http://taxpayer.com/sites/default/files/CTFMP-PensionReport-WEB.pdf" target="_hplink">estimates come from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation</a> and are based on an MP retiring in 2019 and ceasing to receive their pension at age 80. The numbers if the MPs retire in 2015 are also included in the caption to each slide.
10. Michael Chong - $3,124,903
Conservative MP Michael Chong would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $2,684,816 if he were to retire in 2015.
9. Peter Van Loan - $3,194,114
Conservative MP Peter Van Loan would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $2,462,029 if he were to retire in 2015. (CP)
8. Rona Ambrose - $3,330,876
Conservative MP Rona Ambrose would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $2,429,149 if she were to retire in 2015. (CP)
7. Rob Anders - $3,643,873
Conservative MP Rob Anders would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $3,034,089 if he were to retire in 2015. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
6. Denis Coderre - $3,701,989
Liberal MP Denis Coderre would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $3,288,821 if he were to retire in 2015. (Graham Hughes/CP)
5. Scott Brison - $3,723,666
Liberal MP Scott Brison would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $3,113,881 if he were to retire in 2015.
4. James Moore - $3,795,386
Conservative MP James Moore would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $2,893,658 if he were to retire in 2015. (Althia Raj)
3. Gerry Byrne - $3,996,498
Liberal MP Gerry Byrne would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $3,450,711 if he were to retire in 2015.
2. Jason Kenney - $4,318,507
Conservative MP Jason Kenney would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $3,416,779 if he were to retire in 2015. (CP)
1. Stephen Harper - $5,596,474
Prime Minister Stephen Harper would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $5,456,109 if he were to retire in 2015. Harper's numbers are based on the PM not buying back into the program for his service as a Reform Party MP between 1993-1997. In order to make a political statement, Harper did not contribute to the pension program during his time as a Reform MP. After returning to Parliament Hill in 2002, Harper could have retroactively contributed to the program for his service from 1993 to 1997. According to the PMO, Harper has not and will not make those contributions. MPs are not obligated to disclose this information. If Harper were to choose to buy back in for those years, his numbers would change. If he were to buy back in and retire in 2019 he would receive an estimated lifetime pension of $6,216,858 and $6,233,568 if he were to retire in 2015. His numbers also include the special allowance he will receive as Prime Minister. An earlier version of this story used the numbers based on Harper buying back in for the 1993 to 1997 period. After being contacted by the PMO with the prime minister's pledge not to do so, the numbers were updated. (CP)