Canadian taxpayer money has come under intense scrutiny after the government admitted that it had been spent on lavish destinations for the king of Jordan.
Prince Abdullah II of Jordan was celebrated last year as a “double pivot” for the Middle East’s chaotic post-cold war landscape.
While the Canadian treasury paid for a rare stopover for the king in Canada, it paid lavish sums for him to stay at luxury hotels around the world – including close to $500,000 in Munich and Rome.
The $625,000 the Canadian government has paid to feed and clothe Jordan’s Prince Abdullah during his stay in Canada on King Abdullah II and His Royal Highness Abukara II’s Canadian tour (March – October 2017) is rather small beer compared to the cost of the prince’s foreign trips.
The prince, who was welcomed by hundreds of thousands of people while touring Canada, owns a sprawling estate in Bethesda, Maryland, which he listed on his estate tax returns as a “gift”.
The photo-op highlighting Abdullah’s Canadian-descent (and the Canadian guest accommodation) seems designed to shield the role of the US aid it funds.
His personal wealth is estimated to be $17m, but the Guardian could not reach him for comment.
His opulent lifestyle is a far cry from that of Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, who had campaigned on what is popularly regarded as a “progressive” agenda.
Trudeau has campaigned since taking office in 2015 on eliminating a $6.5bn foreign aid budget. Even his recent changes to Canada’s foreign aid policy, which details that more than half will be spent on gender-sensitive projects, comes at the cost of spending less on programs that go to those in countries most in need.
Trudeau is credited with some success in this regard. However, he has courted controversy over the appearance of his decision to scale back foreign aid to Zimbabwe. This decision sparked outrage after a video surfaced showing the prime minister appearing to mock refugees for fleeing poverty in Africa.
The five star luxury hotels frequented by the prince during his Canadian visit included the luxury Taj Palace in Amman; the five star Shangri-La Hotel in Delhi; the grand 16th-century Chandigarh Palace in India; the Mumbai BKC Andheri Leela Galleria and the luxury Grand Hyatt in Mumbai.
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In the first three months of 2018, Jordan has reduced its official aid budget by a total of 2.1% to $423m from $457m.
While Jordan has been getting less aid and the prince does not seem to be receiving direct funding from Canada, they are both dependent on Saudi Arabia, which provides more than $600m in direct financial aid and loans to Jordan to keep it afloat.