Trudeau Faces Flak Over India Trip Bills, Payment For Indo-Canadian Chef

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing criticism for the huge amount that the trip cost, including the $17,000 paid to fly Vancouver-based chef Vikram Vij to India.


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s India visit continues to ignite controversies in Canada, months after he undertook the contentious trip. Trudeau is now facing criticism for the huge amount that the trip cost, including the $17,000 paid to fly Vancouver-based chef Vikram Vij to India, CTVNews reported.

The total bill for the nine-day trip organized in February was over $1.5 million, according to new figures released by the government. As much as $323,000 was spent on hotel stays, while the cost of flying and staffing the VIP Airbus for 43.7 hours over the trip was $485,070, according to Global News. The trip also included payments of about $3,600 for Team Canada hockey jerseys, $5,235 for cell phone fees, and $5,100 for buying Canadian wines for official events.

The expenditure covered by the government was disclosed through documents tabled in Parliament this week following a request by the Conservatives to furbish all government expenses over $1,000 associated with the trip, except invoices that have not been received yet, CTVNews reported.

The $17,044.21 paid to Vij did not include the cost of the meals he created at a dinner for a meeting, and a reception at the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi. The amount included cost of the transportation, accommodation, per diems and incidentals for the Amritsar-born Indo-Canadian restaurateur, the report added.

Vij, a Liberal supporter, said he was part of the trip as “an unofficial culinary ambassador,” reported. He added in a statement emailed to the publication that he aimed to “showcase Canadian ingredients and produce” through his menus, and promote Canadian farmers, wines, tourism, and food safety standards to Indian dignitaries and politicians.

“Earlier this year, I was honored to be approached by the Government of Canada to accompany the Prime Minister on a trip to my homeland of India,” Vij was quoted as saying by the publication. “While my expenses such as flights and accommodation and a per diem were taken care of, I was not paid to be a part of this trip.”

The inclusion of Vij, who co-owns the Indian cuisine restaurants Vij’s Restaurant and Rangoli Restaurant in Vancouver, in Trudeau’s trip is now drawing flak from the Canadian Opposition leaders.

“I’m quite sure if you went to India, you’d be able to find some very good cooks,” Conservative MP Erin O’Toole said, according to “The celebrity Indo-Canadian chef was for domestic political purposes so that they could entertain their own MPs (and) certain stakeholders that they were taking on the trip.”

Global Affairs Canada, however, called Vij’s restaurants “world-renowned for melding Canadian ingredients and the traditions of Indian cuisine,” and told the publication that “it is accepted practice for Canadian missions to invite ‎chefs from Canada to showcase Canadian food products and cuisine.”

The trip, which drew a lot of controversy regarding the over-the-top events and presence of convicted former Khalistan supporter Jaspal Atwal at an official Canadian event, was recently made fun of by Trudeau himself.

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