Thursday, 7 March 2013

Feeding at the trough

Recently across the country we have been told that senators, elected politicians, members of public sector organizations have been using taxpayers’ money as their private piggy bank.

 Some members of the Senate are under investigation for abusing the housing allowance to the tune of thousands of dollars. Senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau, and Pamela Wallin, among possibly other Senators, have racked up thousands of dollars in housing allowance while living in Ottawa and claiming that their main place of residence is in the Province they represent.. Under the rules members of the Senate can claim an allowance for transportation and housing expenses for a residence in Ottawa when they are serving the public. However under audit scrutiny these senators have seemingly made large claims for personal expenses, including transportation, food and even travel expenses for family and staff members.

Not to be outdone by members of the upper house, we had former Minister Bev Oda who racked up expenses including luxury hotel rooms as well as the fame $16 glasses of orange juice. Defence Minister Peter MacKay apparently used army helicopters for fishing trips.

In Alberta we have Minister of Tourism Christine Cusanelli claimed expenses for travel to the Olympics for herself and members of her family, albeit she has now reimbursed these costs to the province. The audit in expenses for members of the Alberta Health Services has uncovered millions of dollars for expenses which a reasonable person who not have thought to be part of the expenses associated with the duties of these officials. The claims included expenses for automobile, food and expensive wine.

Furthermore we have the unscrutinized expenses of First Nations Chiefs, who get the funds from the taxpayers. Chief Roger Redman of Standing Buffalo First Nation makes more money than the Prime Minister. How can we forget the well documented ‘hunger strike’ of Chief Spence of the Attawapiskat while her partner and herself were paid thousands of dollars from the public purse.

To top it all, we have the Senate investigating its own members and now a proposed investigation of First Nations’ expenses. What a joke? When are Canadians going to get a full transparent report on these expenses which seem to continuously mount, even during hard economic times? Accountability is clearly missing at all levels of our government institutions. No transparency results in any accountability. We obviously need an independent review of public sector officials’ expenses

Marcel Latouche

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