When Stephen Harper boosted his cabinet to 32 members from 27 in January 2007, Liberal MP Mark Holland was dismissive of the move as incurring unnecessary expenses.
“These are frivolous expenses,” Holland said.
On Tuesday, Holland was one of the MPs sworn into Justin Trudeau’s expanded cabinet which now sits at 39 members, much bigger and much more expensive than Harper’s government.
While Harper expanded his cabinet in 2007 by adding several secretaries of state, every member of Trudeau’s new cabinet is a full minister.
MPs receive a base salary of $185,800 per year. Cabinet ministers receive an additional $88,700 per year, plus a host of other perks such as drivers, staff, and enlarged office budgets.
When Trudeau was first elected in 2015, he had a cabinet of 31 members, including himself. The increase to 39 members puts the increased annual salary cost at $709,600.
This doesn’t include the additional costs for extra staff which will run into the millions just for those eight additional ministers.
Canada’s cabinet is much larger than other comparable countries.
The core of the American cabinet of President Joe Biden sits at 15 and when peripheral members — including the president’s chief of staff — are added, the number only rises to 25.
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The British cabinet of Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just 23 members, including Johnson.
Australia’s government has 23 members representing core ministries, plus an additional seven, bringing the total to 30 members, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Trudeau is just one shy of the record number of cabinet ministers sworn in. That record is jointly held by Harper’s expanded cabinet in January 2015 and Brian Mulroney’s 1984 government.