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Régis Labeaume, Quebec City mayor, racks up $20K in roaming charges

Régis Labeaume racked up charges of $11,800 for using his iPad and $8,060 for unwittingly using his smartphone while travelling, according to Access to Information documents.

Data roaming while in Rome leaves Quebec City mayor with nasty surprise

Régis Labeaume says he wasn't aware of international roaming charges when he used the 3G network while travelling outside of Canada. (Jacques Boissinot/CP)

Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume got a big surprise in the mail in February in the form of a phone bill after a trip to Rome, Italy.

Labeaume racked up charges of $11,800 for using his iPad and $8,060 for using his smartphone while travelling, according to documents Radio-Canada obtained through an Access to Information request.

He also got a $2,106 bill in July after using his iPad in the United States.

The mayor is angry at his cellphone provider.

"If you ask me why, I do not know. I’m very angry. I do not understand how cellphone companies allow this to happen," Labeaume said.

They told me I was using the 3G instead of the Wi-Fi. I’m not sure I understand everything.- Régis Labeaume, Quebec City mayor

The mayor said he wasn’t aware that data roaming charges can multiply dramatically when people travel abroad.

"They told me I was using the 3G instead of the Wi-Fi. I’m not sure I understand everything," Labeaume said.

Fortunately for him, the cellphone company reimbursed part of his expenses.

For the Rome trip, the bill of $19,860 was reduced by nearly $13,000, leaving the city with a bill of $6,881.

However, there appears to be no reimbursement in the documents obtained for Labeaume’s U.S. trip in July.

He was officially on vacation at the time, but charged the city anyway.

"I work when I’m in the United States. They send me stuff. I’m never on vacation," he said.

Labeaume confirmed that his party Équipe Labeaume will pay for the costs incurred during his trip to Rome. He said he wants to avoid having taxpayers foot the bill.

Labeaume added that he thinks he doesn't think he should have to pay from his own pocket because he was away on business and the expenses were within his business functions.

Quebec City’s technology service modified its operations to ensure another situation like this doesn’t happen again.

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