Ottawa cans Clarkson trip


The second leg of Governor General Adrienne Clarkson’s circumpolar tour was shelved last week.

Clarkson had been planning on visiting Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Greenland this spring. Plans for the visits were already at an advanced stage as her staff arranged what Clarkson and her entourage would do in each of these places.

The tour was to be the second half of a circumpolar state visit, “The Quest for the Modern North.”

The three-week tour of Russia, Finland and Iceland, which took place last September and October, was to raise Canada’s profile and focus attention on northern foreign policy issues.

Last Wednesday, speaking in the foyer of the House of Commons, Foreign Affairs minister Bill Graham said the federal government had decided to cancel this spring’s trip.

His announcement came days after the final $5.3-million tab for the first portion of Clarkson’s “quest” was confirmed.

The Foreign Affairs department covered most of the cost.

But the final tally was five times higher than what observers had estimated, based on previous international state visits by Clarkson.

Calling last fall’s visit a “great success,” Graham said there was no need to “replicate that at this time.”

Former prime minister Jean Chrétien had suggested Clarkson take the circumpolar state trips in 2001.

But controversy over the steep cost of last fall’s tour came just as Paul Martin’s government is dealing with problems of its own over misspending during Chrétien’s years in office.

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