Canadian taxpayers are footing the bill for some members of the delegation that travelled to Israel with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, including former cabinet members, CEOs and religious leaders.
About 30 people among the 208 individuals who accompanied the prime minister reportedly got a free-ticket to travel with Harper on the Canadian government airplane and will have some of their accommodation expenses covered during the Middle East trip, while the remainder of the delegation participants are footing their own bills for the trip.
According to The Canadian Press, the delegates were invited to take part in business meetings and cultural events during the Harper’s first official visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.
Global News contacted The Prime Minister’s Office on Monday to confirm whose travel costs would be covered with public money and how much it would cost for each of those participants, but a response was not received in time for publication.
The list of delegates accompanying Harper and members of his cabinet includes 21 rabbis from across Canada, as well as representatives from B’nai Birth Canada, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, local Jewish community groups, the World Jewish Congress and Centre for Israel & Jewish Affairs.
There are also representatives from Crossroads Christian Communications, Trinity Bible Church and the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada. Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom is also a part of the accompanying party.
Several heads of real estate companies, the president of Air Canada, the vice president of CIBC Wood Gundy, the presidents of Dalhousie University and the University of Waterloo and the vice-president of government relations from Suncor Energy Inc.
Among other prominent individuals on the visit are former Conservative Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day and his wife Valorie, representing their consulting firm Stockwell Day Connex Ltd., David Aisenstat, the CEO of The Keg Steakhouse and Bar, David Asper, chairman of The Asper Foundation and Dr. Marvin Levant, who is the father of Sun News host and Conservative pundit Ezra Levant.
The official delegation of 29 people on the trip include Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, Natural resources Minister Joe Oliver, Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry James Moore, Minister of International Trade Ed Fast and Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism.
*With files from The Canadian Press