2014年4月21日星期一

神秘的加拿大特供礼品店

Foreign Minister John Baird, left, offers a gift to Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of Libya's National Transitional Council, in Tripoli in late 2011. Ministers and other senior government officials who exchange gifts with foreign dignitaries have their own official store of Canadian items to draw on. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press/Pool)
加拿大首都的魁北克部分,有一家专门面向加拿大政治精英的礼品特供商店或称礼品银行(Gift Bank ),它位于魁北克省加迪诺市的一栋政府办公楼的四楼,与渥太华隔河相望,这里没有排队购买印有皇家骑警头像咖啡杯的普通百姓,这里的纪念品都属高端,仅供给政府部长级官员、大型国有企业的老板或最高法院的法官。

在这家不对外开放的商店里,礼品琳琅满目多达上千种,从银袖扣到因纽特人用鸡血石雕刻优雅的熊和鲸鱼样子的钢笔套,以及各省和地区特色的礼品应有尽有,且多是手工制作。单件礼品的价格上限为五百加币,目前库存总价为12万。

更多的信息在加通社的这篇报道中:

And internal records of withdrawals from the shop over the last three years reveal something of the gift-giving habits of Canada's top politicians.

Seventeen cabinet ministers have shopped there since 2012, none so often as Joe Oliver, now Canada's new finance minister.

Oliver returned to the shop eight times for 62 gifts over three years, taking a total of $12,000 in mementos for foreign dignitaries, making him far and away the most generous cabinet minister.

The record shows Oliver's prolific gift-giving occurred during his time as natural resources minister, with each gift averaging about $200 in value.

Oliver's choices were pan-Canadian, with selections balanced from west to east. He often chose pen sets and cuff links, but twice picked carved soapstone bears from Nunavut, for about $500 each.

The Canadian Heritage Department, which runs the Gift Bank, released internal documents to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, but withheld the identities of the dignitaries receiving the gifts to protect foreign relations.
Gifts reflect regional backgrounds

The rules say cabinet ministers can give gifts to their counterparts in foreign countries up to a value of $500, or $300 if the gift is given while the dignitary is visiting Canada. For deputy ministers and their equivalents, such as the head of a Crown corporation, the limits are $200 and $100.

Jason Kenny as citizenship minister took 48 gifts over three visits, for a total value of $6,844, making him the second most generous cabinet minister. Cuff links were frequent choices, though he once gave an acrylic painting worth $500.

The gift choices of other ministers reflect their background. Maxime Bernier, representing the Beauce riding south of Quebec City, picked presentation bottles of famous Beauce maple syrup, at $45 a pop.

Leona Aglukkaq, as then-health minister, always chose sealskin, soapstone and other Arctic crafts, befitting her northern origins.

The late Jim Flaherty gave modestly priced gifts, including a bowl and plate crafted in Ontario, where the former finance minister's riding was located.

Rob Nicholson, as justice minister and now at defence, used the gift bank six times. The record shows that last August, he presented a pair of gifts, a copper plate and box, to an unidentified foreign official "to satisfy cultural superstition."

Pierre Manoni, a Canadian Heritage spokesman, explained that "odd numbered gifts are considered 'bad luck' in some countries. Therefore, two gifts may be provided, such as two candlesticks. ... The cost of the combined gifts will not exceed the allowable limit."

Items must be Canadian

Non-cabinet officials were also frequent visitors to the gift bank, including Beverley McLachlin, Supreme Court chief justice, who chose a soapstone bear and two copper boxes, each at the higher end of the price range.

Ward Elcock, special adviser to the prime minister on human smuggling, picked 37 gifts from the shop for his frequent travels, including pens and cuff links. Wayne Wouters, clerk of the Privy Council, appears only once — taking away books and a pen, perhaps not surprising for a clerk.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not make any withdrawals from the gift bank over the last three years, though he is known to have presented gifts abroad. The rules do not require ministers to use the gift bank.

Manoni says the shop's inventory is carefully chosen by discerning public servants working in the state ceremonial and protocol directorate.

"Items must be Canadian made and/or made with Canadian products, by Canadian artists, and must not exceed $500," he said.

"Consideration is given to weight, size, fragility, cultural beliefs and sensitivities, general appearance, and we strive to ensure that each province (and) territory is represented."

The department declined a request to visit the shop.

-----The Canadian Press

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