Picture this: you show up to dinner, talk for about 15 minutes and leave with $100,000. Sounds pretty good, but it's only a certain type of person that can charge these kinds of exorbitant speaking fees. In the U.S., many former presidents, high-ranking politicians, celebrities, athletes and business moguls are able to work the speaking circuit around the world.
The lower-profile Canadian politicians, like ex-prime ministers and governor generals, make far less than their American counterparts, but Canadian celebrities that have made it big in Tinseltown or the sports arena can command just as much as their American costars and teammates.
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PMs and MPs
Former president Bill Clinton was paid $300,000 to speak in Vancouver in 2006, while Ronald Reagan infamously made $2 million for two speeches in Japan, but Canadian politicians aren't quite as lucky. Former prime ministers don't take in nearly as much as their political pals to the south - even in their home and native land. (We think all celebrities are rolling in money, but here some high-profile people that make less than you. Don't miss Surprisingly Underpaid Celebrities And Other High-Profile People.)
After Brian Mulroney left office in 1993 - he was PM from 1984-1993, while Reagan was in office from 1981-1989 - he could command up to $65,000 per speech. Now that he's been out of office for nearly two decades, Mulroney's speaker's fee has fallen and he now charges $25,000-$40,000, according to the website of his agents at the Washington Speakers Bureau.
On the Liberal side of things, former Prime Minister Jean Chretien makes a little more than Mulroney, reportedly charging $50,000 for his speeches, according to Althia Raj of the Sun Media National Bureau. Not bad for "le petit gars de Shawinigan".
Justin Trudeau, son of one of Canada's most contentious and famous prime ministers Pierre Trudeau, is an MP in the Papineau riding of Montreal, and it was rumored in Moncton's Times & Transcript that the young Trudeau received $10,000 for appearing at a New Brunswick event to promote literacy. Raj also reported that Senator Pamela Wallin charged more than $10,000 for a 2009 speech given to municipal councilors.
The Great One
To be contracted as a guest speaker, you have to have a high profile, and Canadian athletes don't always have the fame that follows around American athletes. After all, in the U.S. the MLBA, NBA and NFL are more popular than the NHL and CFL, and have astronomical, headline-grabbing salaries that can turn these American athletes into household names. The salaries of the NHL and CFL athletes don't seem to garner the same attention. (Find out what athletes often do when they retire in For Athletes, Is There Life After Sports?)
Still, some Canadian athletes have broken through the fame barrier to emerge as celebrity athletes with a one-of-a-kind talent and singular insight that people will pay to hear. The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, is one such athlete, and according to All American Talent & Celebrity Network, number 99 makes upwards of $100,000 per speaking engagement. I guess to make that kind of money all you to do is become the greatest hockey player of all time.
Another of the world's greatest, Donovan Bailey, formerly the "World's Fastest Man," receives much less than Gretzky; according to Events Edge Entertainment, Bailey charges $10,000-$25,000 for a speaking engagement. Still, not bad for less than an hour of work. (For this year's Olympians, the return to everyday life is much more glamorous for some than others. Check out Olympic Athletes: Back To Reality.)
Big Names Leads to Huge Fees
When it comes to Canadian actors, their speaking fees stand up to those of big-time American celebrities. Though Canadians may not be internationally famous for sports or politics, Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, Kim Cattrall, Christopher Plummer and Justin Bieber (yes, I put Christopher Plummer's name next to Bieber's) all grew up in the Great White North. In many cases it's really the name that is being paid for - after all, you don't invite Pamela Anderson to your club opening because you're hoping for pearls of wisdom - but these celebs certainly add entertainment to any event.
According to All American Speakers, Kim Catrall charges over $50,000, and joining her in that price range is comedian and "Deal Or No Deal" host Howie Mandel. Other comedians that are listed for even higher fees are Jim Carrey and Martin Short, both listed as costing more than $100,000.
The Bottom Line
Speaking and appearance fees can be unbelievable when you look into what is charged by American ex-politicians and celebrities. In Canada, those fees are a bit easier to stomach, though $10,000-$50,000 still seems like a good chunk of change for an hour's work. And when stars can break out of the Canadian bubble into international stardom, their speaking paychecks match their accomplishments.
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