What about auditing the House of Commons?

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Unionist
What about auditing the House of Commons?

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Unionist

What's the deal? MPs are "elected" (sort of), so their spending shouldn't be subject to scrutiny?

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/double-standard-mps-spare-t... standard: MPs spare themselves same spending scrutiny given senators[/url]

I have long maintained that the House of Commons should either be turned into a useful institution, or else abolished. The loyal sheep in party caucuses can vote from home - or from work (assuming they can get meaningful employment) - via computer. In fact, even that is unduly burdensome - the party whips can just cast ballots on their behalf. Question period could be replaced by some failed sitcom which has run its course on Netflix.

Briefly - which party is demanding close independent oversight over MP spending?

 

Caissa

Shouldn't this be in the Elections 2015 forum? Wink

Unionist

Caissa wrote:

Shouldn't this be in the Elections 2015 forum? Wink

Yes. In fact, it should be in the Elections 2015 platform of some party. Any party. Let me know when I can stop holding my breathhhhhhhh.....

Caissa

The Communist Party might be persuaded.

bekayne

But you don't understand, MPs can be held to account. Unless they're in a safe riding. Or their party does well.

Unionist

bekayne wrote:

But you don't understand, MPs can be held to account. Unless they're in a safe riding. Or their party does well.

Oh right, I forgot.

Also: unless no one knows how much they're spending and on what.

 

Unionist

[url=http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/megan-leslie-s-flight-to-edmon... Leslie's flight to Edmonton meeting cost 6 times more than fellow MP[/url]

Quote:

Megan Leslie, who represents the Halifax riding, expensed $6,365.83 for a trip from Ottawa to Edmonton, then back to Halifax.

Her colleague, Robert Chisholm, flew return from Halifax to Edmonton for one-sixth of the price — $1,044.84.

"I will admit I did fly business class also I know that my return flight was booked last minute because I wasn't sure when I was going to be able to return due to meetings I was having in Edmonton," Leslie said Tuesday.

So besides the price tag for this particular flight, here are my questions:

1. Why did the NDP (and the Liberals, three weeks prior) fly its entire caucus to Edmonton - rather than meet in Ottawa, where I'm told they frequently have MP work to do?

2. Why are partisan caucus meetings paid out of public funds?

3. Whatever happened to Sheila Fraser's request (2009-2010) to do a performance audit of all MP expenses - and why were all parties (except maybe the Bloc) opposed?

4. Why is individual MP spending not subject to access-to-information legislation?

 

Mr. Magoo

What's your take on $16 orange juice?

Unionist

Mr. Magoo wrote:

What's your take on $16 orange juice?

I didn't mind that indiscretion as much as when she wrote "NO" on the recommendation to continue funding KAIROS.

 

Mr. Magoo

Fair enough.  But apocryphal legend has it that they finally got Capone on tax evasion.

Todrick of Chat...

No, party or MP will ever demand independent oversight over thier spending habits.

Unionist

Todrick of Chatsworth wrote:

No, party or MP will ever demand independent oversight over thier spending habits.

That's why I'm demanding it. Everyone else here is excited about the Senate, because the media tells them so. I was just trying to highlight an example of mass delusion.

 

NorthReport

I think the NDP supported MP's expenses being audited.

onlinediscountanvils

NorthReport wrote:

I think the NDP supported MP's expenses being audited.

I think you've wrongly accused people of being Liberals.

NorthReport wrote:

oldv,

I expected to hear from the people who supported the right-wing Wynne Liberals in the Ontario election. So you are kinda confirming my hunch abourt Leadnow.

Todrick of Chat...

Unionist wrote:

Todrick of Chatsworth wrote:

No, party or MP will ever demand independent oversight over thier spending habits.

That's why I'm demanding it. Everyone else here is excited about the Senate, because the media tells them so. I was just trying to highlight an example of mass delusion.

 

The problem is the Treasury Board of Canada (TBofC); they tell the bastards that they can spend as much as they want due to their class and position they have in society.

The MPs let the TB be generous with how the money is spent because they are both feeding at the same trough with all their privileges. 

 

quizzical

Unionist wrote:
[url=http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/megan-leslie-s-flight-to-edmon... Leslie's flight to Edmonton meeting cost 6 times more than fellow MP[/url]

Quote:

Megan Leslie, who represents the Halifax riding, expensed $6,365.83 for a trip from Ottawa to Edmonton, then back to Halifax.

Her colleague, Robert Chisholm, flew return from Halifax to Edmonton for one-sixth of the price — $1,044.84.

"I will admit I did fly business class also I know that my return flight was booked last minute because I wasn't sure when I was going to be able to return due to meetings I was having in Edmonton," Leslie said Tuesday.

So besides the price tag for this particular flight, here are my questions:

1. Why did the NDP (and the Liberals, three weeks prior) fly its entire caucus to Edmonton - rather than meet in Ottawa, where I'm told they frequently have MP work to do?

2. Why are partisan caucus meetings paid out of public funds?

3. Whatever happened to Sheila Fraser's request (2009-2010) to do a performance audit of all MP expenses - and why were all parties (except maybe the Bloc) opposed?

4. Why is individual MP spending not subject to access-to-information legislation?

i don't have an issue with the costs of flights from Edmonton differences. i've flown and tried to fly out of Edmonton back to Cape Breton and down to Vancouver Island, the pricing was right wonky at any given time, it seems there is no pattern to when they hike the costs or lower them.

i don't have an issue with them wanting out of Ottawa to caucus. the less insular they are the better imv. they're also the official opposition why wouldn't their meetings be paid for?

they're spending should be. it is here even in our municipal government.

 

NorthReport

For downtown London, UK probably a bargain.  

Typical gotcha politics.

Mr. Magoo wrote:

What's your take on $16 orange juice?

onlinediscountanvils

NorthReport wrote:

For downtown London, UK probably a bargain.  

Typical gotcha politics.

Mr. Magoo wrote:

What's your take on $16 orange juice?

Boring. Just deal with this, NR:

NorthReport wrote:

oldv,

I expected to hear from the people who supported the right-wing Wynne Liberals in the Ontario election. So you are kinda confirming my hunch abourt Leadnow.

quizzical

i take your points on caucus meetings for all.

councillor's expense claim forms are part the bi-weekly council meeting agenda packages.

what bothers me about the senate excesses is they spent 21 million to find,  what, a million in excess?

they should all get a budgeted amount for the year in travel and per diums and be done with anything else.

NorthReport

What is wrong with paying $16 for orange juice in downtown London, England? 

I mean if it wasn't freshly squeezed I could understand the fuss but....

 

Unionist

quizzical wrote:

i don't have an issue with the costs of flights from Edmonton differences.

I just tried booking Ottawa-Edmonton at 8:45 pm, then Edmonton to Halifax on Monday - in "Flex" class on AC. Total was $1,208.11, all in. When I did the same in "Latitude", it was about $2,200. She claimed $6,365.83 - and flew Business class, for reasons she has not explained. Then this:

Quote:
She thinks the cost of her flight may have skyrocketed because it was a multi-city trip, meaning Leslie didn't fly back into the same city she departed from. She flew to Edmonton from Ottawa because she thought flying to Halifax to catch a flight west didn't make sense.

How could anyone who flies all the time not know that fares are calculated in one-way segments? Unless someone else pays the bills, of course.

Quote:
i don't have an issue with them wanting out of Ottawa to caucus. the less insular they are the better imv. they're also the official opposition why wouldn't their meetings be paid for?

Maybe I didn't make myself clear. I'm talking about all parties caucuses. How dare they hold these on taxpayers' expense? Caucus meetings are not part of an MP's work. They are private, secret, closed-door, partisan meetings. They are party strategy sessions. MPs elected as independents don't get to charge thousands of dollars to fly to a caucus meeting. Part of the charge against Mike Duffy is that he claimed expenses for trips where he boosted the Conservative party. It is said that this is not "work of the Senate". I agree. Partisan caucuses are no different.

Quote:
they're spending should be. it is here even in our municipal government.

Your municipal councillors' expenses are subject to access-to-information? That's good. I was shocked to learn back in 2009 that MPs' expenses are not. Only Gilles Duceppe at the time supported Sheila Fraser's request for a performance audit. As far as I know, it never was allowed - unless someone has contrary information, but I can't find any evidence of it.

I don't like to follow the crowd. I don't care about Megan Leslie's extravagant flight. She has realized it was dumb and said she won't do it again. What bothers me, a lot, is all the hand-wringing and righteous indignation about Senate excesses, without even stopping to ask (or even allow) the exact same questions about the House. That's hypocrisy of the first order on the part of political parties, and it's sheep-like follow-the-leader for those who mindlessly consume whatever the media squirt at them.

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist wrote:

quizzical wrote:

i don't have an issue with the costs of flights from Edmonton differences.

I just tried booking Ottawa-Edmonton at 8:45 pm, then Edmonton to Halifax on Monday - in "Flex" class on AC. Total was $1,208.11, all in. When I did the same in "Latitude", it was about $2,200. She claimed $6,365.83 - and flew Business class, for reasons she has not explained. Then this:

Quote:
She thinks the cost of her flight may have skyrocketed because it was a multi-city trip, meaning Leslie didn't fly back into the same city she departed from. She flew to Edmonton from Ottawa because she thought flying to Halifax to catch a flight west didn't make sense.

How could anyone who flies all the time not know that fares are calculated in one-way segments? Unless someone else pays the bills, of course.

Quote:
i don't have an issue with them wanting out of Ottawa to caucus. the less insular they are the better imv. they're also the official opposition why wouldn't their meetings be paid for?

Maybe I didn't make myself clear. I'm talking about all parties caucuses. How dare they hold these on taxpayers' expense? Caucus meetings are not part of an MP's work. They are private, secret, closed-door, partisan meetings. They are party strategy sessions. MPs elected as independents don't get to charge thousands of dollars to fly to a caucus meeting. Part of the charge against Mike Duffy is that he claimed expenses for trips where he boosted the Conservative party. It is said that this is not "work of the Senate". I agree. Partisan caucuses are no different.

Quote:
they're spending should be. it is here even in our municipal government.

Your municipal councillors' expenses are subject to access-to-information? That's good. I was shocked to learn back in 2009 that MPs' expenses are not. Only Gilles Duceppe at the time supported Sheila Fraser's request for a performance audit. As far as I know, it never was allowed - unless someone has contrary information, but I can't find any evidence of it.

I don't like to follow the crowd. I don't care about Megan Leslie's extravagant flight. She has realized it was dumb and said she won't do it again. What bothers me, a lot, is all the hand-wringing and righteous indignation about Senate excesses, without even to stop and ask (or even allow) questions about the House. That's hypocrisy of the first order on the part of political parties, and it's sheep-like follow-the-leader for those who mindlessly consume whatever the media squirt at them.

Yes it is expensive for MPs to fly around the country. I don't like the alternative. I do understand that you can't always get an economy fare when schedules are tight.

I do not agree that causus meetings should not be publicly paid for or that they should be only in Ottawa. Caucus does discuss what the parties will propose and they are necessary. I object to the notion that MP work should be defined as constituency work. They are not just managers they are also to propose and set future policy. They are legislators.

We should think about what it means to have caucus meetings paid by the party. We could do this. Together with the recent changes to the election finances and elections we would see that there would be one viable party only -- the Conservatives. If we want the parties under current rules to pay for their own caucus meetings -- why have caucus meetings at all -- let's just move to a single party system like China. They have their CPC= Communist party of China and we have our CPC= Conservative party of Canada. Democracy is such a drag. We could save a few bucks by getting rid of it.

As for the flight itself we should be asking some much better questions and proposng better solutions.

1) Parliamentarians need to travel and they need to do so often and on short notice

2) This should represent substantial buying power and the airlines shold be negotiated with to reflect that

3) We should have a special class of fares for MPs -- a good rate since the public is paying -- even if it is last minute and this rate cover economy fare but will bump to business class if economy sold out. This means that the public should not have to pay $6000 for an MP to do an extended trip.

As for the comment about her flying a lot -- that does not make sense. It is not becuase she did not know what she was doing but becuase the options were limited for a complicated itinerary.

Another good question -- this business of huge fares when booking last minute -- is this actually defensible or is it blackmail from the airlines? Why shouldn't prices be more consistant? There either is room left on the plane or not. Booking early makes sense to be able to get a seat but having the seat price go up 600% as the date gets closer does not reflect cost. It is also a shakedown for anyone that has to attend for a family emergency or funeral as well as situations like this.

I don't think the audits should be focussed just on punitive exposures of MPs -- how about using audits to try to see if there are less expensive ways of doing things. Isn't that what they are for? Now it seems they are just political clubs and that is the wrong approach.

Nobody is asking if Meagan Leslie actually had a choice and that should be the start if the desire is to save money.

Let's also remember that half of the MPs are within a cheap distance to Ottawa. Another quarter are further but still to major centres. Are we planning on punishing the remaining MPs who are either going to and from less popular places or great distance? Leslie's ticket issue would not have applied if she had flown from Ottawa or Toronto. And deals are odd when they are from some of these places-- amounting to huge differences from the same airport within hours nevermind days. Peple who live in Ottawa, Toronto or Montreal may not appreciate this -- even if they fly frequently.

Unionist

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Yes it is expensive for MPs to fly around the country. I don't like the alternative. I do understand that you can't always get an economy fare when schedules are tight.

I have no clue why MPs need to fly anywhere except Ottawa and their riding - unless, as part of some parliamentary committee (for example), they're required to travel.

Quote:
I do not agree that causus meetings should not be publicly paid for or that they should be only in Ottawa. Caucus does discuss what the parties will propose and they are necessary.

I have no clue why they should be held other than in Ottawa. Given the enormous expense, you'd have to explain that to me slowly. And if held in Ottawa, I'm quite certain there are meeting rooms on the Hill readily available for that purpose, at no particular cost. And no, caucuses are not "necessary" for Parliament to work - they are a "necessity" only for parties that wish to retain or obtain power.

Perhaps you can comment on my point about independent MPs. Can they fly around the country to reflect on how they will vote, and not be "insular" (in quizzical's terms), and charge their air, hotel, meals, and laundry to the taxpayer? Of course, the answer is, you don't know, because all MP spending is secret.

Quote:
I object to the notion that MP work should be defined as constituency work. They are not just managers they are also to propose and set future policy. They are legislators.

You should always stop and think before you attribute views to others (me) that the others have never expressed. I totally agree with your comment. MPs primary work should ideally be consideration and crafting of legislation, and serving on parliamentary committees of various kinds. Nowhere in our country's constitution does that require membership in some "caucus" or another.

Quote:
As for the comment about her flying a lot -- that does not make sense. It is not becuase she did not know what she was doing but becuase the options were limited for a complicated itinerary.

You obviously didn't read what she said carefully. She said (and I had put it in boldface for ease of reading) that the price may have skyrocketed because it was a multi-city trip. And she implied that she could have saved money by going back to Halifax from Ottawa to do a round trip, but that that wouldn't make sense. I simply pointed out that anyone who has ever flown anywhere, and has to be careful with money, would know that that is a blatant absurdity. I just calculated a round-trip Business Class (flexible) fare from Halifax to Edmonton return, leaving tomorrow and returning Monday. It's $6,571.76, all-in. Whereas Ottawa-Edmonton plus Edmonton-Halifax, same dates and fare class, if $5,730.37. And that doesn't even count the cost of flying back from Ottawa to Halifax first to do what she thought would be a "cheaper" round trip. I love Megan Leslie, but on airfares, she hasn't got a clue.

Quote:
I don't think the audits should be focussed just on punitive exposures of MPs -- how about using audits to try to see if there are less expensive ways of doing things. Isn't that what they are for? Now it seems they are just political clubs and that is the wrong approach.

Sorry, what "audits" are you talking about? I opened a thread in 2010, and again now, because no one has seen any audits of the House, no one is calling for them, and the parties resist them at every turn.

Sheila Fraser asked in 2009 to do a performance audit of MPs expenses, precisely to see if there were more efficient ways of doing things. She was turned down. Please go back and read that 2010 thread that I linked to.

Where, exactly, do you stand on that fundamental issue of transparency and democracy?

 

Sean in Ottawa

I was clear.

I am in favour but I think the focus must also be on savings as opposed to singling out people.

You sure picked from what you were going to answer to avoid that part.

"I object to the notion that MP work should be defined as constituency work. They are not just managers they are also to propose and set future policy. They are legislators."

Nothing I said in this quote is directed exclusively to one person. But still I said it in the context of you excluding caucus work from essential parliamentary business. I re-read this quote and stand behind it.

As for the multi-city trip comments -- there is more than one way to read what she wrote. I may have read it differently than you. I don't agree with your point here. It was a multi-city trip and they can be harder to schedule and get as good a price on. You don't know if it was about flying back to Halifax -- there may have been no connection to do so in the time she needed.

You ignored averything I said about how fares should be and what I suggest the House do to negotiations.

NorthReport

This is a typical Unionist gotcha thread

The NDP supports House of Commons audits but decides to single out NDPers for attack.

If you are sincere about wanting audits, insterad of your usual NDP bashing, focus on the Cons who are the ones blocking the audits.

NorthReport

Get that big orange padlock out! 

Mulcair already has the backing of several Premiers now to shut the Senate down. 

Arbitration for 19 senators caught up in expense scandal

http://www.nationalnewswatch.com/2015/06/19/senators-repay-110000-in-dub...

Unionist

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

I was clear.

I am in favour but I think the focus must also be on savings as opposed to singling out people.

If you have the time, please read the 2010 thread, where you will see that that is precisely the type of audit which the Commons refused:

Quote:

Fraser — best known to Canadians as the bean counter who blew the lid off the Liberal sponsorship scandal in 2004 — asked almost a full year ago if her office could conduct a "performance audit" on $533 million of annual spending by both the House of Commons and Senate.

Recent examinations of politicians' spending habits in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Britain have exposed some sensational examples of waste and greed.

Fraser has maintained she is not on a "witch hunt" and that her audits are "there to help improve management processes."

The board — which includes MPs from all four parties, with Commons Speaker Peter Milliken as chairman — declined. The board, which deliberates in secret, stated there are already sufficient "control mechanisms" in place.

"All past audits have resulted in an unqualified audit opinion, which is the optimal situation," said the release.

Access-to-information laws don't apply to MP budgets and their expenses are subject to financial audits that don't show exactly where the money goes.

Sean in Office wrote:
You sure picked from what you were going to answer to avoid that part.

Geez Sean, I directly replied to your point by citing Sheila Fraser's 2009 request. Just go read that thread please. The MPs do not want an audit which looks for more efficient ways of doing business. That's exactly what they don't want.

Please comment on independent MPs and whether you think they should be able to expense trips around the country, even if they don't belong to a caucus, just to think about planning policy and legislation. Please comment on whether the public has a right to know whether this is being expensed now.

Quote:
As for the multi-city trip comments -- there is more than one way to read what she wrote. I may have read it differently than you. I don't agree with your point here. It was a multi-city trip and they can be harder to schedule and get as good a price on. You don't know if it was about flying back to Halifax -- there may have been no connection to do so in the time she needed.

Geez, Sean, she said she flew Ottawa to Edmonton, and then Edmonton to Halifax. At least do her the courtesy of reading what she said and believing her. Yes, Sean, it was about "flying back to Halifax", and yes, Sean, I do know that, because I have total respect for Megan Leslie, and she told the media that. Just do some reading, please.

Quote:
You ignored averything I said about how fares should be and what I suggest the House do to negotiations.

Yeah, I ignored it, because it's all bullshit. MPs expenses are secret. Everyone is whining about Senate expenses. Once we lift the lid on that secrecy, then we can set up a babble subcommittee to negotiate cheaper air fares. In the meantime, at least recognize the rank hypocrisy in MPs condemning the Senate expenses while insisting on keeping their own secret. That includes Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, at a minimum. Speak out about that.

 

NorthReport

Bullshit Unionist and you know it, but it is par for your course.

The NDP does indeed support house of commons audits

I'm so glad to see you have your priorities right meanwhile people like Peter MacKay and James Moore are collecting what is it, six million dollar pension plans but you go get that $50 or whatever it is back from the NDP.

You are doing one hell of a job Unionist. Frown

NorthReport

I'm calling you on your NDP bashing nonsense Unionist. This useless thread needs to be closed

NDP support audit of MPs’ expenses

http://energeticcity.ca/article/canadian-press/2015/06/10/tories-odd-man...

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Why hold caucus sessions outside of Ottawa... I believe it is supposed to help familiarize members with the regions outside of those they actually represent and the National Captial Region (NCR) - although this supposition is usually more optics than reality. This is something those in the NCR (or less than half a day's ground travel outside of it) don't really have much feeling for.*

I was reading somewhere that the entire Center Block is in need of structural overhaul and that both chambers would be affected for a prolonged period of time. Perhaps time to move past the optics of paying attention to the regions and resurrect the idea of putting parliamentarians on trains and moving them from location to location to conduct "the nation's business" - I am sure those of us in "the regions" would get some amusment out of having the chance to see our government "in action".

____

* For the reaction to anything "federal" taking place outside of the NCR, look back a few years when the idea of basing the National Portrait Gallery in Calgary rather than Ottawa/Hull was on the table... it sounded like someone was scalding cats...

Unionist

Excellent news! It seems the NDP and Liberals have finally changed their position and called for audits of their MPs' spending! It took them a few years - until last week - but they've finally taken the right step. Let's see how Harper and his cronies champion secrecy now.

Thank you very much, NorthReport, for finding this tidbit. It's much appreciated.

 

 

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Without trying to be completely contrarian - I love stories like the $16 orange juice one... they tend to stick, and they tend to damage those to whom they stick. The examples may be be petty, but people who don't get expense accounts, travel allowances, personal assistants, parachutes of that yellowy metal, employer supplied anything, etc. [ad nauseam] actually respond to these stories - it generates an immediate WTF reaction. Other "scandals" may, by far, be shown to cost the public more, but it is the picayune stuff that the vast majority of people can relate to and get outraged over.

Pondering

This makes sense:

"I strive to be diligent with my expenses and I aim to live up to the trust you have put in me as your representative in Parliament," Leslie wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday night.

"To ensure that this doesn't happen again, I am putting in place procedures in my office to make sure I explicitly know the cost of each flight, and if it is too expensive, we'll have to change my travel plans."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/megan-leslie-s-flight-to-edmon...

I thought it sounded odd for an MP to be making their own travel arrangements. This supports Sean's contention that this is an administrative issue. I don't find it at all surprising that she didn't know the details of the flights she was booked on. The suggestion that the government should make a deal makes sense. Centralizing bookings with a travel agent might also make sense as they are aware of pricing and alternate modes of transport. They can arrange for rental cars and hotels too.

Sean in Ottawa

Why is there no response to the suggestion I made about air travel: that the House of Commons should expect a better deal than this. That MPs should have to take economy but get bumped to business class if no other seats available. That it is wrong to have 600% increases in the prices of tickets as we get close to the date -- the seat is there what justifies this? The House of Common shas to negotiate with the airlines a better deal on behalf of Canadians.

Let's also all remember that MPs have a limited budget and this comes from that.

 

Policywonk

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Why is there no response to the suggestion I made about air travel: that the House of Commons should expect a better deal than this. That MPs should have to take economy but get bumped to business class if no other seats available. That it is wrong to have 600% increases in the prices of tickets as we get close to the date -- the seat is there what justifies this? The House of Common shas to negotiate with the airlines a better deal on behalf of Canadians.

Let's also all remember that MPs have a limited budget and this comes from that.

I wonder why MPs and Senators can't use the same procedures federal government employees do for booking tickets.

Unionist

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Why is there no response to the suggestion I made about air travel: that the House of Commons should expect a better deal than this.

1. Because the point of the thread is to discuss whether MPs' expenses should be subject to public scrutiny. 2. Because I don't know anything about how MPs' air travel is booked or paid for, and neither do you, which brings us back to point #1, doesn't it?

Quote:
Let's also all remember that MPs have a limited budget and this comes from that.

How much exactly is that budget? Does air fare come from that budget? Do all MPs have the same budget? Who told you it was "limited"?

I know how much they're paid in salary. Why are their expenses secret? How many of them would have to pay back sums, or have their names sent to the RCMP, if an independent audit and investigation were performed?

kropotkin1951

I am pretty sure that when Bill Siksay was MP he posted his expenses on his website. One size fits all is not a good idea for air travel. It costs a bit more to go back and forth to community events when your riding is in Northern BC compared to Eastern Ontario. Travel times to a remote riding can be 8 to 12 hours compared to 2 to 3 for most MP's.

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Why is there no response to the suggestion I made about air travel: that the House of Commons should expect a better deal than this.

1. Because the point of the thread is to discuss whether MPs' expenses should be subject to public scrutiny. 2. Because I don't know anything about how MPs' air travel is booked or paid for, and neither do you, which brings us back to point #1, doesn't it?

Quote:
Let's also all remember that MPs have a limited budget and this comes from that.

How much exactly is that budget? Does air fare come from that budget? Do all MPs have the same budget? Who told you it was "limited"?

I know how much they're paid in salary. Why are their expenses secret? How many of them would have to pay back sums, or have their names sent to the RCMP, if an independent audit and investigation were performed?

Sorry Uinonist -- this is crap.

A thread is not limited narrowly to the question in the OP.

It is a logical conclusion to go from should there be an audit (rhetorical since nobody is against this here) to what should be the purpose of the audit and how can we save money on these expenses. These are all on-topic as directly related.

I don't accept that it is reasonable that this thread be opened and then limited to questions that just about everyone agrees on.

The smearing of a specific MP is less on point than the question I raised anyway. You look like you are aspiring to control direction of this thread and that simply does not happen here.

NorthReport

Maybe Canadian airlines could provide free travel to MPs as a cost of doing business in Canada. Or the airlines could make an employee avaialble to coordinate MP's travel to get the best bang for our bucks.

Policywonk wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Why is there no response to the suggestion I made about air travel: that the House of Commons should expect a better deal than this. That MPs should have to take economy but get bumped to business class if no other seats available. That it is wrong to have 600% increases in the prices of tickets as we get close to the date -- the seat is there what justifies this? The House of Common shas to negotiate with the airlines a better deal on behalf of Canadians.

Let's also all remember that MPs have a limited budget and this comes from that.

I wonder why MPs and Senators can't use the same procedures federal government employees do for booking tickets.

Sean in Ottawa

For the record:

1) MP travel comes from the office budget or the travel points system.

2) The travel points system limits trips and the office budget limits dollars.

3) There exists some discounts for MPs but the plan is not comprehensive -- it is done through a booking system that may or may not do the booking and may be limited in terms of lead time.

So:

1) Depending on which system you use you are drawing from a limited pool.

2) The points system does not track dollars although there are rules for what you can do

3) Gven that the Travel Points System does not track dollars having rules for what can be charged MPs are not unreasonable as well as limits on fare costs for seats closer to flights (when passengers lose choice) are also relevant to this discussion. To see this done through having discounts for MPs negotiated to be offered through all booking mechanisms would save the public a lot of money.

4) Since travel is limited either by number of trips through the point system or dollars through the budget it is not reasonable to suggest that this is open ended. A discussion about how many points should exist is reasonable but a suggestion that there is no limit is not. At present there are 64 points and it appears that a trip solo by an MP counts as 1/2 a point.

http://www.parl.gc.ca/SmartWeb/SmartBook/Documents/f9395607-dac6-4437-a0...

Sean in Ottawa

NorthReport wrote:

Maybe Canadian airlines could provide free travel to MPs as a cost of doing business in Canada. Or the airlines could make an employee avaialble to coordinate MP's travel to get the best bang for our bucks.

Policywonk wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Why is there no response to the suggestion I made about air travel: that the House of Commons should expect a better deal than this. That MPs should have to take economy but get bumped to business class if no other seats available. That it is wrong to have 600% increases in the prices of tickets as we get close to the date -- the seat is there what justifies this? The House of Commons has to negotiate with the airlines a better deal on behalf of Canadians.

Let's also all remember that MPs have a limited budget and this comes from that.

I wonder why MPs and Senators can't use the same procedures federal government employees do for booking tickets.

I seem to remember that this used to be the case many years ago on Air Canada.

Privatization took us from one extreme to the other.

Airlines should not have to provide free travel to MPs becuase that would still mean that the public would pay (instead of taxpayers it would be the paying public whose fares would increase to pay for the perk).

However there is a resonable middle ground which is what I have been proposing. There should be a MP rate for all fares and it should not increase for last minute fares (there is or is not a seat) and it should be at a reduced rate. The airline should provide economy if available. If the MP wants to upgrade they shold pay a fixed upgrade fee personally and not be able to claim it. The existing Travel Points system already restricts the number of trips and who can travel. We only need controls on the cost in order to make that mechanism work.

Yes there are reasonable ways to look at this by changing the rules.

This is a completely different issue than the matter of audits since audits look only at compliance with existing rules not the reasonableness of those rules.

The question of whether we audit or not is a silly one to spend a whole thread on unless we have a single person against the idea. Anyone? Didn't think so.

But you need better rules.

The same issue exists in the Senate. -- the unreasonableness of the Senate expenditures is only partly uncovered by "abuse" audits. The rules themselves are not reasonable. Abuse covers what is not allowed by the present rules and the audits should be able to uncover that. The second type of audit required is a "value for money audit." I think this would uncover more wasted money than the abuse audits. This is where you first look at what is allowed and determine if that is reasonable and clamp down on some of those entitlements (by nature and by quantity), and secondly, look at the cost and procedures behind each and determine if there is a way to provide those reasonable entitlements at lower cost.

In our conversation here I submit that we shoud be able to discuss all of the above.

This is based on my understanding that threads are general topic areas not limited to narrow specific questions. Therefore if the topic is somehow related to MP expenses we get to discuss the full gambit of this topic no matter how the OP is worded. This is to prevent people from using the OP to frame, limit and control a discussion. That is unacceptable.

NorthReport

How dare our MPs not share information with Canada's right-wing media?

How dare they refuse the right-wing media trying to get that information so that they can try and offset the damge that is coming to the right-wing parties in the election over the Liberals and Conservatives in the Senate.  

But don't worry Unionist will come to your rescue.  Laughing

Most MPs won't give details of their Ottawa housing arrangements

http://www.canada.com/News/politics/Most+give+details+their+Ottawa+housi...

 

Sean in Ottawa

NorthReport wrote:

How dare our MPs not share information with Canada's right-wing media?

How dare they refuse the right-wing media trying to get that information so that they can try and offset the damge that is coming to the right-wing parties in the election over the Liberals and Conservatives in the Senate.  

But don't worry Unionist will come to your rescue.  Laughing

Most MPs won't give details of their Ottawa housing arrangements

http://www.canada.com/News/politics/Most+give+details+their+Ottawa+housi...

 

I understand why MPs would not want to volunteer when they would end up being scrutinized while others not participate.

That said, I support a requirement that there be a report all would ahve to comply with that would be released publicly.

Unionist

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

The question of whether we audit or not is a silly one to spend a whole thread on unless we have a single person against the idea. Anyone? Didn't think so.

Wanna revisit that conclusion?

Parties blustering about Senate expenses will enhance their credibility by demanding, loudly, that the lid be lifted off secret MPs expenses, and now - in addition to your good points about improving efficiency of spending, which is what Sheila Fraser wanted to do 6 years ago, and now she's long gone.

 

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

The question of whether we audit or not is a silly one to spend a whole thread on unless we have a single person against the idea. Anyone? Didn't think so.

Wanna revisit that conclusion?

Parties blustering about Senate expenses will enhance their credibility by demanding, loudly, that the lid be lifted off secret MPs expenses, and now - in addition to your good points about improving efficiency of spending, which is what Sheila Fraser wanted to do 6 years ago, and now she's long gone.

 

Please rephrase I don't even see a point here. Is there something missing? I don't get the second paragraph at all.

NorthReport
NorthReport

Isn't the speaker's position one of neutrality? So much for that idea. No wonder the NDP wants to shut it down.

Mulcair has 'no lessons' to give on integrity, Senate speaker says 

http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/mulcair-has-no-lessons-to-give-on-integri...

Unionist

Never imagined I'd find myself in agreement with Leo Housakos. Thanks for the link, NR!

 

NorthReport

A supposed neutral Speaker taking partisan shots. Is there no level of depravity to which these Senators will not sink?

Like many Canadians looking forward to that big bright orange padlock being put on the Senate doors by Mulcair.

Unionist

NorthReport wrote:

A supposed neutral Speaker taking partisan shots.

He said the ongoing controversy is proof that the House of Commons should face the “same kind of scrutiny” placed on senators in recent years. That's the topic of this thread, and apparently you disagree.

All of Mulcair's attacks are against senators' spending. Does he imagine that MPs are less thieving fraudulent scoundrels than senators? Or has he done a quick count and discovered that he has 0 members in his Senate caucus, so it's a safer target?

Senate abolition is a non-issue for real people with real problems. And it's an easy promise to make, and an impossible one to keep. It rates with the Liberals' 10,000 promises.

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