In six months, the new Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, Martine Biron, has already undertaken a dozen missions abroad, costing taxpayers more than a quarter of a million.
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Although traveling is part of his ministry duties, we note that since his appointment, Martin Biron has spent the equivalent of one and a half months traveling internationally.
The former Radio-Canada journalist has already traveled to almost every major continent: New York, Paris, Brussels, Djerba, Dakar, Abidjan, Seoul, Singapore, Jakarta, Tokyo, Kyoto, Washington. Total expenses associated with his travels now exceed $300,000.
His first mission on French soil cost more than $20,000, including all expenses for his allies and his ministry staff who came to prepare the ground a few days before his departure for Paris.
An island worth $50,000
A follow-up to his trip to the Tunisian coastal island of Djerba last November, where the Sommet de la Francophonie was held, totaled more than $50,000 in expenses.
Added to this – according to what was revealed during the study of budget appropriations – were the costs of about $36,600 for Prime Minister Francois Legault and his staff, who also participated in the Francophonie summit in Tunisia. However, it is not clear how much public money has been spent on ensuring his safety, especially as the cost of his bodyguards has not been disclosed. The same thing, moreover, to all the travels of Martin Byron.
The international relations minister’s Africa tour last January, which took him to Dakar and Abidjan, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire, also cost more than $50,000. The trip was preceded by a stop in Belgium, costing just $20,000.
Palm for the most expensive mission goes to a week carried out in the Indo-Pacific region, which ended up costing more than $74,000.
His ministry argued during the trip that it was the first official visit by an international relations minister to the region since 2018, “with growing potential”.
Mme Biron took the opportunity to attend the launch of the Mois de la Francophonie program in Korea, organized by the Conseil de promotion de la francophonie, of which Quebec is chair this year.
In Singapore, the Quebec Minister of International Relations visited the Bombardier Service Center and participated in the opening of the Canada Conference on Asia 2023.
Mr. who stayed in Jakarta, Indonesia for two days.me He traveled to Japan, among other things, to meet the Governor of Kyoto and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Representative General du Quebec in Tokyo, during a reception.
Expenses for his recent trip to Colombia, which ended last week, were not disclosed at press time.
Take the pilgrim staff
Asked to comment on the number of trips Minister Biron had made, Catherine Boucher, his press secretary, recalled that the pandemic had “interrupted diplomatic relations”.
“We must take pilgrim workers and occupy the ground in our priority territories,” he pleaded, noting that international exports of goods from Quebec would increase by 12.8% in 2022, reaching 113.2 billion dollars.