Former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson still costing taxpayers money

Andy Radia
Canada Politics

Adrienne Clarkson continues to be a drain on the pocketbooks of Canadian taxpayers.

The former Governor General, known for her extravagant spending habits, has billed taxpayers more than $500,000 for secretarial help since leaving Rideau Hall in 2005.

Clarkson defends the expenditures.

Her assistant Michael Henry told the Toronto Star the "temporary" staff is needed to respond to correspondence Clarkson receives related to her time in office.

"Clarkson gets up to 200 letters and between 20 and 30 requests a month for speaking engagements, involvement in benevolent causes and demands related to her role as colonel-in-chief of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Regiment," he said.

"As Canada's most active and involved Governor General, she created a profile which means that there are still many worthwhile calls on her personal participation, which she takes seriously and requires time and research to assess their value for active involvement."

But the Toronto Star reviewed the public accounts records and found only one other former Governor General had claimed federal funding for temporary help.

Romeo LeBlanc, who served in the post between 1995 and 1999, received $273,115 between 2007 and 2009. Leblanc was 81 when he died in June 2009 after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease.

This is not the first time Clarkson has been questioned about her spending habits.

During her tenure as Governor General her budget increased from $11 million a year to $19 million and, in 2003, she enraged Canadians after going $4 million over budget on a northern country tour to promote Canadian culture.

Clarkson and husband John Ralston Saul are now co-chairs of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, a Toronto-based non-profit organization that helps new Canadians enter mainstream life.

And, of course, she earns a sizable government pension estimated to be greater than $120,000 a year.

(Getty Images)