Thursday, February 15, 2007

Dinner With Lise

Being the lieutenant-governor of Quebec is like being imprisoned in a luxury resort: nobody wants you around but you get all sorts of perks anyway.

Unfortunately, the current incumbent has been enjoying herself too much as taxpayer expense, perhaps to compensate for the fact that the vast majority of Quebecois don't want anything around to remind them of the queen of the maudits anglais :

Quebec Lieutenant-Governor Lise Thibault, whose spending practices have been questioned, will be replaced after the next provincial election, the Prime Minister's Office said yesterday.

The PMO said the decision to replace Ms. Thibault was made before reports surfaced about reported lavish expenses.


According to documents obtained by Le Journal de Montréal, federal authorities repeatedly questioned Ms. Thibault's spending practices between 2000 and 2004. A $59,000 garden party and a $30,000 Christmas party were among the expenditures that raised eyebrows.

In one case, Ms. Thibault's office refused to release the names of restaurant guests who had dined on the public dime.

The $30,000 Christmas party in 2001 had 67 guests, at a cost of $445 a person. The party included costs of $14,000 for food at the Sheraton in Montreal, $6,000 in gifts, $720 to hire three chefs and free parking for guests.

Ms. Thibault's expenses also include a 2002 bill from the Sheraton for $8,800 in food and $9,300 in beverages, including 172 bottles of wine and 59 Brazilian and Spanish coffees.

Bureaucrats raised questions about a $266.36 restaurant bill near Quebec City in April, 2004, given that there was a $286.21 food charge for the same day at a hotel in Montreal. A civil servant at Canadian Heritage told her colleagues there was "no real explanation for this one" from Ms. Thibault's office.

Well, at least Mme. Thibault has both the air of regal reserve appropriate to the vice-regal position and the evasiveness and spendthrifiness appropriate to a federal Liberal appointee to any job in Quebec.

But it's also a sign of how the vice-regal position, ostensibly the guardian of the constitutional order in Canada and the provinces, has been reduced to a chief social hostess position.

As long as you can make polite small talk at garden parties, you don't need any other qualification.

Source: Globe and Mail

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