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Provincial taxpayers treat local politicians to truffles

Treats at a reception the British Columbia government hosted at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Victoria included two containing truffles, a fungus traditionally hunted by pigs.

Truffled mushroom bruschetta and grilled vegetable with truffle goat cheese tarts were both on the menu at the Sept. 26, 2012, reception for mayors and councillors. They were part of a $32,328 food and beverage tab, including tip and taxes.

That's a reduction from previous years, however, when similar receptions included large bills for beer and wine.

The bill for the 2012 event at the Victoria Conference Centre's Crystal Garden included:

Truffled mushroom bruschetta, 65 dozen: $2,470

Grilled vegetable and truffle goat cheese tart, 65 dozen: $2,470

Crab Cakes, 80 dozen: $3,360

Beef skewers, 80 dozen: $3,360

Chicken satay, 80 dozen: $3,200

Tempura prawns, 80 dozen: $3,360

Antipasto platters: $4,320

Warm flat breads: $2,560

Reception total: $25,100

Gratuity on food and beverage: $3,765

Taxes on food and beverage: $3,463

Total: $32,328

The invoice mentions there were eight cash bars for guests in the Crystal Garden, but unlike past years does not list any charges to the government for beverages. Other charges included $553.56 related to the set up for Premier Christy Clark's scrum with reporters.

Expenses for the publicly funded UBCM receptions have dropped significantly in the three years since The Tyee began making freedom of information requests for the invoices.

In 2010 BC Hydro spent over $62,000 for a party for mayors and councillors in Whistler. The Crown corporation defended the spending saying it was a "cost-effective" way to talk with local elected officials from throughout the province, but has not hosted a UBCM reception since.

In 2011 the BC Hydro reception was replaced by one the provincial government hosted. That gathering at the Vancouver Convention Centre cost provincial taxpayers $48,207.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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