OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau says his mother and his in-laws were personally invited by President Barack Obama to attend a state dinner at the White House.
And he’s not denying that taxpayers footed the bill for those family members, who were part of a large delegation accompanying the prime minister during his first visit to the U.S. capital in March.
It was revealed last week that 44 people were part of the delegation, at a preliminary cost of just over $25,000, with some invoices and expense claims still to be tallied.
Trudeau defends the expense, arguing that the three-day visit marked the first time in almost 20 years that a president threw a state dinner in honour of a Canadian prime minister.
He says the size of the delegation was meant to underscore his long-standing view that there is no more important international relationship for Canada than its unique connection with the United States.
Trudeau notes that Obama praised his mother, Margaret Trudeau, during the state dinner for her work on mental health issues and he says that “very positive moment” signalled a rapprochement in Canada-U.S. relations after a chilly period under his Conservative predecessor, Stephen Harper.