Saying goodbye to departing Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney last month cost Canadians about $30,000.
Farewell bashes hosted by the Bank of Canada in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa – and attended by the wealthy elite of Bay Street, among others – offered guests canapes, fine wine, floral arrangements and a harpist.
The heady round of farewells for Carney, who left his job May 31 for greener pastures at the Bank of England, began with a reception in Toronto. The posh May 2 event for 200 people was catered by Oliver and Bonacini for $9,300, including almost $500 for flowers. The evening at the Toronto Board of Trade ballroom drew key business people and investors, who heard a speech by Carney.
Another reception in Montreal drew a similar group of 150 guests at the University Club of Montreal. Guests heard brief remarks from Carney, as well as from his newly appointed replacement, Stephen Poloz. The event cost $4,438.74.
Finally, the bank held May 30 events at its downtown Ottawa headquarters on Wellington Street, a reception for 200 people and a later dinner in its dining room for 80 select guests, many of them key policy-makers. Poloz also attended.
Final bills are not yet available, but the bank estimates the in-house Ottawa reception cost $7,600 and the dinner $6,900 – or about $86 a person.
Bank staff also expensed $90.31 for a going-away gift for Carney, a set of bird sculptures fashioned from aluminum. The hospitality total comes to about $28,300, though travel costs for Carney and his staff would add several thousand dollars more.
Details of the expenses were obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act, as well as from bank officials. The expenditures come at a time when most government departments are coping with shrinking budgets and thousands of public-service layoffs.
Bank spokesman Jeremy Harrison defended the events as an opportunity for Carney to thank Canada's financial and policy-making communities, and to introduce them to Poloz, his successor.
"Mr. Carney has worked tirelessly on behalf of Canadians over these past five years, and worked closely and frequently with financial market participants in Toronto and Montreal, and with fellow policy-makers in Ottawa on many important financial sector reforms in response to the (global financial) crisis," Harrison said in an email.
Party pricetags are 'excessive' according to NDP
"These receptions provided an appropriate venue for the governor to officially bid farewell, to thank industry participants for their continued co-operation, and to allow the Toronto and Montreal financial communities the opportunity to thank him for his service to Canadians."
Harrison noted that when former bank governor David Dodge left his post in 2008, there were official receptions held in Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
But New Democrat MP Mathieu Ravignat said Carney's farewell events were "excessive, particularly in a situation of economic restraint."
"A $30,000 bill is significant," he said in an interview. "Something more modest would have been possible, particularly in tough economic times. It would have been a show of respect for the taxpayer."
NDP finance critic Peggy Nash attended one of the Carney events, Ravignat said, but she had no role in "organizing ... the opulence of the event."
The governor of the Bank of Canada makes a salary of between $431,800 and $507,900.