Federal government spending tens of thousands at elite private club – Politics

Federal Crown corporations and government departments are spending tens of thousands of dollars each year at Ottawa’s elite Rideau Club.

According to documents tabled in the House of Commons, Crown corporations with business mandates topped the list of big spenders. 

Once the place to see and be seen by top Ottawa business leaders and government mandarins, the Rideau Club’s popularity declined during Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government as spending by public servants came under more scrutiny.

The pricey private club atop a downtown Ottawa skyscraper is still popular among lobbyists and government relations professionals who often invite MPs to receptions at the Rideau Club on behalf of various industries.

Overall, 14 Crown corporations or departments reported spending at the Rideau Club during the period surveyed. The charges reported topped more than $111,000. Most government departments hadn’t spent a cent.

The corporations defend the spending, citing confidentiality and the need to entertain foreign dignitaries and top executives.

But New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen said he was shocked.

“This is one of the most exclusive private clubs in Canada,” said Cullen, who has been to the Rideau Club three times since he was first elected in 2004.  “Most Canadians who are just trying to make ends meet would be furious that governments, Liberal and Conservative, allowed their top executives to drop tens of thousands of dollars on an exclusive old boy’s club.”

Cullen said there are a lot of places in Ottawa to eat.

A $2,500 membership to have lunch

“Most of them don’t require a $2,500 a year membership to have lunch. I’m just amazed the elites thought this was OK.”

Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose’s office was also critical of the spending.

“What we’re seeing here is a government that clearly has a spending problem, and these are the kinds of expenses we should be looking at when we have a mounting deficit to get under control,” said Saro…

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