Roughly $200,000 total for trade mission not the whole picture
Premier Kathy Dunderdale says a government trade mission to China in June was well worth the cost to the public purse — but even following an access to information request to obtain the exact figures, the total cost remains unclear.
Premier Kathy Dunderdale. — Telegram file photo
As previously reported by The Telegram, the provincial government responded to a request for “any and all costs” and a “total number of government-funded participants” for the trade mission.
After about $380 and three months, The Telegram was provided with information about the expenses for 14 people — the premier, two ministers and additional government staff. In all, according to information obtained Oct. 16, the trade mission cost more than $202,000.
Yet further review of the documents showed no mention of any spending for the premier’s RNC security detail. The staffer dealing with the access to information request was asked why the information was not included.
“As you’re probably aware, departments and other public bodies aren’t obligated by the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act to release information which could be harmful to individual or public safety,” stated the response. “Whether or not the premier was accompanied by security personnel would fall within that category.”
The RNC similarly refused to provide any costs, if they exist, for police officers on the trade mission.
“Release of the requested information could compromise the effectiveness of the security detail,” stated a response from Const. Talia Murphy.
Contacted Wednesday morning, a spokeswoman with the premier’s office said no comment would be made on anything related to the premier’s security.
The security detail aside, costs were also not provided for representatives from Crown corporation Nalcor Energy, with at least two — president and CEO Ed Martin and vice-president Jim Keating — taking part in the trip. Nalcor is considered arms-length from government.
With what numbers are known, the cost for the roughly 10-day trade mission to China stands higher than previous, annual trips to that country, typically made by smaller delegations.
However, the trip also touched on more topics, in more sectors of the economy, than the typically single-subject excursions.
Since the trade mission, at least three of the government’s listed representatives — the premier’s chief of staff, and then-ministers of Natural Resources and Finance — have left the positions they held at the time.