Saturday, May 15, 2010

Stamps and Guns and "Other Expenses"

I thought I'd post a three catch-ups on items that I posted earlier this week.

1.) Stamps, Guns and Candice: On Wednesday, I posted a writeup about Candice Hoeppner's attempts to influence voters in Wayne Easter's Malpeque riding using her MP postage budget regarding her Private Members Bill C-391. Yesterday, in the Globe and Mail, she admitted that she had sent out between 500 and 800 letters to "people who indicated to her that they are interested in the issue" of dismantling the gun registry. She sent these letters to voters in the eight Liberal ridings whose MPs voted for her bill in second reading back in November 2009, against their Party. She's urging these people to put pressure on their MP to vote for the Bill. While I am in agreement with her Bill (although it is $2 billion too late), I am not in agreement with her tactic. Yes, according to "the letter of the law", she complied with the rules of the House and is allowed to use her postage budget in this manner. My concern is that she has now wasted roughly $450 of taxpayers' money strictly to further promote her own agenda on this one issue. That is wrong, especially in light of the recent ban on the clearly partisan "10 percenters".

2.) Go get 'em Sheila Fraser: In yesterday's posting, I discussed the MP refusal to allow Auditor-General Sheila Fraser access so that she could audit their MP expense budget. The Board of Internal Economy used the excuse that it was beyond her mandate and then took off for a one week break. Despite the media's attempts to ask both the Liberal and Conservative Government House Leaders about this issue, they were unsuccessful. As well, a recent poll indicated that 88% of Canadians thought that MPs expenses should be public but I guess that's not enough for the Board of Internal Economy, after all, 12% still think MPs shouldn't be scrutinized! Fortunately, the Globe and Mail has posted a pdf file listing all Member's expenditures for the 2008 - 2009 fiscal year. It is downloadable (after you click a few times on the Scribd website) but it makes for fascinating reading. You don't get specific expenditures (i.e. how many toilet seats were bought) but you do get an idea of how much is spent on travel, telephones, printing, office rent etcetera and you can see how much your own MP spends compared to his or her peers. One column I found particularly interesting was "Other" Some MPs like Ken Epp of Edmonton - Sherwood Park had expenses as little as zero in that column, others like Steven Fletcher of Charleswood - St. James - Assiniboia had "Other" expenses as great as $308,905. It sure would be nice to know what that was spent on but taxpayers will never know because Board of Internal Economy decisions are made behind closed doors.

I say, keep trying Ms. Fraser, Canadians deserve to know how 500 million tax dollars are being spent.

3.) Helena Guergis: On May 13th, 2010, the much persecuted Helena Guergis posted this press release on her website. I don't have much to say about it other than it does seem to contradict some of the statements she made in the CBC interview with Peter Mansbridge earlier this week. What stood out to me was the reversal of her comments on Monday regarding her husband's non-use/now use of her Parliamentary email account through her Blackberry. This story has more twists and turns than a drunk driver on a mountain highway. The press release is worth a read if only to put her spin on things after she took the time to mull over her Mansbridge interview.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link with the pdf on MP expenses! A great resource, even if we won't get the real details.