Freeland billed taxpayers for limos, taxis despite claim she rode bike, took public transit

Freeland billed taxpayers for limos, taxis despite claim she rode bike, took public transit

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is quickly proving her critics right after chauffeur, taxi, and limousine billings undermined her pledge to ‘climate-friendly’ travel.

According to Blacklock’s Reporters, Canada’s deputy prime minister has billed taxpayers $3,040 for limo and taxi rides in the Greater Toronto Area.

In addition, she has expensed $6,736 to be chauffeured by private transport companies during domestic and international trips.

Last July, Freeland was at the centre of controversy when account expenses contradicted her claim of not travelling within Toronto by car.

The minister told reporters she avoided car travel and attended meetings on foot or by public transit, decrying “blatant disinformation” for suggestions to the contrary.

“I think all of us who are in these positions of responsibility need to take a deep breath and ask ourselves what we did today to fight climate change,” Freeland testified last June 7 at the Senate national finance committee. “What did I do today to be sure that we’re doing the right things for Canada?” she added.

“I don’t own a car because I live in downtown Toronto. I am like 300 metres from the nearest subway,” she said.

“I ride my bike to meetings in Toronto because I live in the community I represent in the centre of this great city,” she claimed last summer. “And I take taxis to the airport.”

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, the finance department took five months to itemize Freeland’s limousine and taxi billings. They only became public after the Office of the Information Commissioner requested their release.

In addition, expense records show Freeland used a chauffeured car 14 times in the past two years to attend “meetings and events” in Toronto, reported Blacklock’s Reporter. She last used a chauffeur on March 6.

Chauffeur Daniel Labelle claimed expenses that day to support Freeland with “meetings and events” in Toronto and again on February 18 and 19, 2022. 

The chauffeur in 2021 billed for driving the minister in Toronto on April 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27, May 2 and 3, 5 and 6, again on May 25 and 26, July 28, 29 and 30 as either “ministerial transportation” or “transportation of the Minister.”

Freeland did not explain her government chauffeur expense claims to the senate committee at the time, which included 28 days of meals and other expenses. 

Notably absent from the billings are her use of a chauffeured car in Québec City last March 21 and 22, in Montréal last November 8, August 21 and 22 and April 11, and in Montréal again on July 19 and 20, 2021.

They also did not include chauffeured trips within Ottawa, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

Access To Information records further showed those billings excluded a $781 claim by the minister during the 2021 UN Climate Summit in Scotland. 

The finance minister has repeatedly described herself as a thrifty wife and mother with the simple habits of a Prairie farmer. “I’m a farmgirl,” she once testified at the Commons trade committee.

Freeland in 2020 remarks to the House said as a schoolgirl she learned to drive a tractor — “I know how to keep my foot on the gas pedal,” she said — and experienced the hardships of manual labour. 

“As the daughter of a farmer I worked on the family farm during the summer,” she said. “Obviously I worked without pay because it was the family farm.”

Both Freeland’s parents were criminal lawyers in Alberta. Freeland is a millionaire Rhodes Scholar with a Harvard BA and investment property in London, England, records show.

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