Friday, May 11, 2007

Jacques Bensimon's guide to fine dining

As promised, here's more follow-up on the expense claims of Mr. Jacques Bensimon, former chair of the National Film Board.

Once again, a bit of a refresher:

- Back in January I noticed Mr. Bensimon filed a few expense claims that appeared to be a bit lavish.

- This one was a dinner for 4 people (Mr. Bensimon, 2 other government employees, and 1 guest) at the Windsor Arms in Toronto.

- This dinner for 4 cost taxpayers: $425.63.

- I wanted to know what they ate that could cost them $106.41 per person, so I filed an Access to Information request.

Here's what I got back:

What did we learn:

- The "2 Government of Canada employee(s)" were none other than our Governor General, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaƫlle Jean and her husband, His Excellency Jean-Daniel Lafond, C.C.

- The "1 guest" was Mrs. Vera Bensimon, Jacques' wife!

- The "working dinner" occurred on a Friday night, ending at 11:23PM.

- They ate $280 worth of "OPEN FOOD."

- The four of them had (presumably shared) a $75 bottle of Moueix wine. (FYI - The Toronto Star had this to say about the Windsor Arms: 'The wine list is like no other in the city').

Coles Notes version: The GG and her husband and Jacques and his wife went out on a Friday night to a swanky Toronto hotel, ate $70 meals each, drank a $75 bottle of wine and then stuck taxpayers with the tab.

Makes you feel good about paying your taxes, doesn't it?

Here's a pic of the GG and Jacques earlier that same day:

Looks like they were sure working up an appetite.


percyq said...

The private sector wines and dines and entertains itself on the public dime every day. Where's your exposure and condemnation of that, hypocrite?

Larry said...

Percyq, the private sector, after creating jobs, selling products to generate revenue, and making a profit, gets to deduct part of the cost of such a meal from the taxes it would otherwise have to pay. Under current Canadian tax law, a dinner with only 4 people would only be 50% deductible.

And in many companies, such a dinner that was not with a customer or included executive management would not likely be approved, and therefore not paid or deducted.

Scott Hennig said...

Thanks Larry.

Further... deducting a business expense is completely different than pulling out a Government of Canada credit card and using my money to eat $70 meals and drink $75 bottles of wine with your wife on a Friday night. To suggest otherwise is laughable.

Plus, the Canada Revenue Agency has the duty to reject any illegitimate business expenses. Taxpayers don't have any recourse here, other than exposure and public pressure to have the Prime Minister put a stop to this type of action.

And, I rightfully can't file an Access to Information request for some private company's business expenses, I can with public officials.

Lastly, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation favours lower, simpler and flatter tax systems - which would mean the elimination of many tax credits and deductions in favour of a lower overall tax rate.

Eric said...

He's a lousy tipper too. They probably spit in his

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