Last week the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) congratulated independent MLA Bob Simpson (Cariboo North) for posting details of his travel expenses on his website.
“Transparency is the best way to ensure tax dollars are spent wisely,” said Jordan Bateman, the CTF’s B.C. Director. “Our organization has been pushing MLAs for a long time to proactively disclose their travel expenses and we are delighted that Bob Simpson has taken the lead on this. We hope his example encourages the other 84 MLAs to follow suit.”
Simpson has posted several travel expense reports to his website (http://www.bobsimpsonmla.ca/about-bob/bobs-expenses/), outlining items like airfare costs, per-diem claims, taxi fares and parking fees. Currently, these figures are all simply lumped together into a single line item for each MLA.
In England, political expense fraud sparked a revamp of their system. In Nova Scotia, an audit found MLAs billing taxpayers for video games, hi-definition TVs and espresso machines—which stopped when expenses began to be posted online. In Toronto, the gold standard for expense accountability, taxpayers can examine their local city councillor’s receipts, one-by-one.
taxpayers are still waiting for their MLAs to follow suit, despite a spring 2010 promise that action would happen before that fall.
“This is a great start,” said Bateman. “In the future, we hope to see B.C.’s politicians follow the example of Toronto City Councillors and post actual receipts online for the public to view.”
On top of their salaries, MLAs can claim $19,000 per year for living expenses, $11,580 in in-constituency travel costs, other provincial travel costs, plus $61 a day for meals. They also manage an annual constituency office allowance of $119,000 (in addition to office space leases).
“All of this money is tax dollars and should be open to scrutiny by the taxpayers picking up the tab,” said Bateman. “Mr. Simpson’s efforts are another step toward the ultimate goal of open, transparent government in the Province of British Columbia.”
For more information please contact:
British Columbia Director Jordan Bateman office (604) 510-5535 cell (604) 999-3319 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributed by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation