Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day visit to Canada earlier this year cost Canadian taxpayers 3,73,000 dollars, including 80,000 dollars on receptions and 1,06,400 dollars on a motorcade, according to a media report.
The cost of Modi’s trip to Canada from April 15, the first official visit by an Indian prime minister in more than 40 years, were provided to ‘The Huffington Post Canada’ under the Access to Information Act.
The expenses included 10,448 dollars on hotel rooms, 30,000 dollars on audio visual equipment, 21,708 dollars on unspecified consultants, 73,213 dollars on public servants’ travel, 14,790 dollars on health services, 3,65,654 dollars on flowers and wreaths, 1,584 dollars on gifts, 5,981 dollars on interpreters and translation and 75 dollars for a flag.
The bill did not include security costs, the report said.
The largest expense on a gathering at an arena in downtown Toronto, at which Canadian Prime Minister and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper spoke to 10,000 members of the Indo-Canadian community and Modi was feted, was however not borne by Canadian taxpayers but by private citizens and businesses.
The event at the Ricoh Coliseum cost about 600,000 dollars, National Alliance of Indo-Canadians’ President Azad Kumar Kaushik told HuffPost.
The event became controversial as it gave a political boost to Progressive Conservative Party (PCP) MP Patrick Brown, who was campaigning for leadership of Ontario province.
Kaushik, however, said, “We did not look at it from an electoral perspective. Our goal was to create bonding between India and Canada.”
He said by organising this mega reception for Modi, the group wanted to promote enhanced investment and business opportunities, as well as remind the Indian government that Canada is home to an important diaspora whose needs should not be ignored.
Meanwhile, Timmins James Bay MPP Gilles Bisson has demanded that Brown, who is now leader of the Progressive Conservatives, should pay taxpayers back for some of the cost of the Modi visit.
“You can’t have somebody do a political activity and then have it paid by the state,” Bisson said.
“It was a pretty big thing for Brown’s leadership bid, to have this person show up, and say he’s my boy, especially in the community that he was trying to get all kinds of memberships signed up to,” he said.
Bisson said he welcomed Modi’s visit to Canada but felt Brown should repay some of the travel and security costs that taxpayers bore to help him campaign.