Most of us have had a bit of a soft spot for Mary Simon since she was first named Canada’s Governor-General. She checked all the right boxes, which is important to the optics-oriented Trudeau government. She is the first Indigenous Governor-General. And she is a local person with roots in the community as a former local resident.
But most importantly, she was the right person for the job and seemed to be the one who would be the right fit for the position.
But we knew she would be living under a microscope, and that many struggling Canadians do not want to hear about our political leaders spending taxpayers’ dollars on lavish lifestyles.
The latest target is the Governor-General’s wardrobe. Evidently, she is not shopping at Winners in the Rio-Can Marketplace.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on the federal government to end the policy that allows governors general to bill taxpayers for clothes.
“The feds need to rein in the governor general’s out-of-control expenses,” said Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director of the CTF. “Canada’s governor general already takes a $342,100 salary every year so they can pay for their own clothes.”
Governors general Julie Payette and Mary Simon expensed more than $88,000 in clothing that they get to keep. Expenses include a $680 “top,” $590 dress pants, $20 t-shirts, a $160 scarf and $1,064 in boots.
“While some of the items were worn for specific ceremonies connected to the governor general’s role, many others appear to be clothing for personal or day-to-day business use,” according to the National Post.
A governor general is allowed to expense up to $130,000 in clothing purchases over their five-year mandate.
The governor general’s annual salary is $342,100, which is about $40,000 more than it was before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many Canadians are actually stressed about the price of clothing, but the governor general isn’t one of them,” Terrazzano said. “If the prime minister and ministers can pay for their own clothes then surely governors general can too.”
At the coronation of King Charles III, Governor-General Simon commissioned an outfit to reflect her Inuit culture.
The dress, or annuraaq, Simon wore to the ceremony was designed by fellow Nunavimmiut Beatrice Deer, the celebrated singer-songwriter, designer and mental health activist.
After meeting with Simon, Deer spent a month-and-a-half creating the garment.
The different fabrics included sheer green material on the arms, caribou fur details and a white fox-fur collar, the process included beading and embroidering the Governor General’s official coat of arms for a chest piece on the annuraaq.
We don’t know exactly how much money was spent on what was truly a remarkable outfit. We also don’t know if it will ever be worn again.
Maybe people would feel better about expenses like this if the outfit was auctioned off to raise money for a Canadian charity.