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Day 2: Arrival in Washington, DC
Arrived in Washington, DC in the afternoon and met my host for the International Visitor Leadership Program, Josh. So what is this program? It is put on by the US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of International Visitors. Here’s why they do it:
The Office of International Visitors manages and funds the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). Launched in 1940, the IVLP seeks to build mutual understanding between the United States and other nations through carefully designed professional visits to the U.S. for current and emerging foreign leaders. These visits reflect the visitors’ professional interests and support the foreign policy goals of the U.S. government. Each year over 4,500 IVLP participants from all over the world are selected by U.S. embassies to travel to the U.S. to meet and confer with their professional counterparts. Through these encounters, they gain a greater understanding of the cultural and political influences in U.S. society and enjoy a firsthand experience of the U.S., its people and its culture. Visitors represent government, politics, the media, education, non-governmental organizations, the arts, public health, international security, business and trade, and other fields. Over 320 current and former heads of government and state and many other distinguished world leaders in the public and private sectors have participated in the International Visitor Leadership Program.
The program starts tomorrow with a meeting with the program officers to go over the itinerary for the trip, a briefing with officials from the US Department of State on Canada-US relations, and meetings with the director of the Canada Institute in the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
If you didn’t read the press release for this trip, no doubt you might be wondering, who’s paying for this trip? Here’s the answer. The costs are covered by the US Department of State, and they estimate the expense at $9,080 US for the 21-day program. With politicians’ travel expenses very much in the news lately, I thought you’d be interested in knowing my expenses as we go.
I have always said that international travel is an important part of the Premier’s job and, as Official Opposition Leader and International and Intergovernmental Affairs and Aboriginal Relations Critic, I think it is a necessary part of my job too. My criticism has not been the about the fact that the Premier and her ministers are taking international trips, it’s the eye-popping price tag associated with them. You’ll notice this trip budgets out at about $432/day, whereas most ministeral trips lately have been costing in the range of $2000/person/day (or more). Here are my expenses so far:
$549.59 Coach Flight Ottawa to Washington
$60.00 Baggage Charge
$40.51 Taxi from Ronald Reagan National Airport to Hotel
$32.00 Dinner in the Hotel Restaurant, Chartwell Grill
$682.10 Total to Date
The hotels we are staying at are nice, clean, safe and moderately priced. I’ll post the room charge after I check out of each hotel and get the bill. In the meantime, here are some pictures of the hotel I’m staying at in Washington so you can check it out for yourself:
UPDATE: Someone tweeted that they wanted me to post the expenses from the Ottawa leg of the trip too. I’m happy to comply in the interest of transparency, but keep in mind none of these costs are being paid for by Alberta taxpayers.
$329.83 Economy Flight Calgary to Ottawa
$21.00 Baggage Charge
$354.82 Lord Elgin Hotel (2 nights @ $157/night+tax)
$11.24 Internet access
$35.00 Taxi to Ottawa Airport
$6.74 Breakfast sandwich and coffee at Airport Concession
$758.63 Total for trip to Ottawa
I took a cab with fellow conference attendee John Carpay to the Lord Elgin Hotel and he kindly picked up the cost. Also, meals and refreshments were included at the conference, so I incurred no additional costs there. Hope that helps fill in the gaps.