Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Having organized the data differently than the Library of Parliament, the National Post can report that no MP racked up more expenses in the first six months of the year than Ambrose. Ambrose’s total of $319,180.54 was well above the average for all Alberta MPs which was $227,851.16. One of the largest components of Ambrose’s spending was her travel bill. “She’s made a concerted effort to visit every part of the country since becoming Leader of the Opposition,” said Mike Storeshaw, Ambrose’s director of communications. The travel component alone for Ambrose was nearly $92,000 from January to June, which works out to more than $15,000 a month. That travel bill included $26,000 spent so that Ambrose’s designated traveller, her partner J.P. Veitch, could travel with her.--------Interim Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose led the way, spending just under $320,000 from January 1 to June 30, according to an exclusive National Post analysis of the expense reports of all 338 MPs.------

Younger boy has left for NAIT. Older boy is in the wilderness doing his apprenticeship. On my writing desk there is a picture of him all grown up next to the picture of him at kindergarten at Belgravia elementary school. He is being shown how to do something by a child from another class who was older than him. Seeing the contrast between the young and the youngest pictures it makes me wonder if time is a balloon rapidly losing air.
While I wait to go take my parents out on the day trip that was requested by them (buying boots at Southgate Mall) --I read the news. I find out that MPs are wasting our cash. I note that Ms. Ambrose has spent the most. I am curious why.

Why is Ms. Ambrose paying so much to travel about Canada? She is not the Prime Minister. You would expect her travel expenses to be simply to go back and forth from the constituency office to Ottawa.
Are we paying for the travel trips for partisan business? Let me go ask Ms. Ambrose about this article below.


From: Julie Ali <
Date: Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 8:28 AM
Subject: expenses--living and travel-------------http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-politics/ambrose-leads-the-way-in-mp-expenses-for-first-half-of-2016 CANADIAN POLITICS TRENDINGBlue Jays | U.S. election | FP Magazine | Real estate | Carbon price Rona Ambrose’s nearly $320,000 in expenses leads MPs for first half of 2016: analysis----
To: Rona Ambrose <rona.ambrose@parl.gc.ca>


Hi,

I note from the article below that the cost for you to travel and live as opposition leader was significant.  


My understanding of these expenses were that they were for the costs of travel for the MP-- between the constituency office and the place of work in Ottawa.

Why are we paying such large sums in your case?
Are we paying for partisan travel and business?
If we are this expenditure on extracurricular activities paid by taxpayers should end pronto.
The Conservative Party of Canada already has some difficulties retaining our interest and spending our money profligately won't help y'all get re-elected any time soon.

I am not impressed that we are forking out major sums of cash in this way for your travel bills. If the Conservative Party of Canada needs to increase its profile by having you travel so much then they should pay for this travel  as well as the costs of family that travel with you. I don't feel that taxpayers need to subsidize the enhancements that the Conservative Party of Canada feels necessary by having you travel all over the nation. 

I feel we should only be paying for travel between the constituency office and the place of work. You are not the prime minister of Canada so why should we pay for cross country junkets?

It is unreasonable that we are paying major sums of cash for our all  our political hires when the rest of us are stuck with paying our own bills. I have never understood why we even pay for the relocation costs of politicians. When ordinary citizens move for jobs we pay our own way for the most part. While ordinary citizens pay for everything, our politicians get things for free -even their coffee bill in Alberta is paid for by us. It's ridiculous and should end in my opinion. 

Politicians make rules that benefit themselves and in the case of taxpayer sponsoring of living and travel expenses we are being fleeced. 

Please be more mindful of our feelings about the waste of public dollars and rein in the spending.

Sincerely,
Julie Ali





Rona Ambrose’s nearly $320,000 in expenses leads MPs for first half of 2016: analysis

David Akin | October 11, 2016 | Last Updated: Oct 12 9:50 AM ET
Interim Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose spent just under $320,00 from January 1 to June 30, according to an analysis of MP expense reports.
OTTAWA – Members of Parliament spent a combined $71-million in the first six months of the year on travel and living expenses, running their constituency offices, promoting their activities with advertising, and buying meals and gifts for others.
Interim Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose led the way, spending just under $320,000 from January 1 to June 30, according to an exclusive National Post analysis of the expense reports of all 338 MPs.
The analysis also found:
• A pair of Liberal MPs spent $40,000 between them on smartphones, laptops and other information technology gear.
• An Alberta Conservative MP spent $65,000 s far this year for “repairs and maintenance” on a riding office.
• A St. John’s Liberal MP spent $50,000 in just six months on the lease for his constituency office while, at the other end of the country, in Prince George, B.C. a Conservative MP spent all of eight dollars in six months for “constituency lease, insurance and utilities.”
Information on how MPs spend money has only been made public since the 2014-15 fiscal year. The information is published online by the Library of Parliament but in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to compare spending among groups of MPs or compare spending across any one of 24 different expense categories.
The National Post created its own database incorporating all of those expense categories for all 338 MPs over the course of the two most recent fiscal quarters for which information is available.
Having organized the data differently than the Library of Parliament, the National Post can report that no MP racked up more expenses in the first six months of the year than Ambrose.
Ambrose’s total of $319,180.54 was well above the average for all Alberta MPs which was  $227,851.16.
One of the largest components of Ambrose’s spending was her travel bill.
“She’s made a concerted effort to visit every part of the country since becoming Leader of the Opposition,” said Mike Storeshaw, Ambrose’s director of communications.
The travel component alone for Ambrose was nearly $92,000 from January to June, which works out to more than $15,000 a month. That travel bill included $26,000 spent so that Ambrose’s designated traveller, her partner J.P. Veitch, could travel with her.

Related

House of Commons rules, set by MPs themselves, allow an MP to allocate some of their authorized travel resources for a designated traveller (usually a spouse), dependants and employees.
Aaron Wudrick, a former Conservative political staffer who is now the national director of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, said there’s a question as to whether Ambrose is using taxpayer-funded travel for partisan political work.
“I would certainly expect the leader of a party to travel more but the question is who is supposed to pay for that,” Wudrick. “I think when we talk about travel budgets for members of Parliament, the only things that should really bear on how much each is spending is how far they are from Ottawa.”
Thomas Mulcair, the NDP leader, spent $58,782 on travel in the same period, including $5,527 spent on his designated traveller. The average travel bill for all Quebec MPs was $11,861.
Green party Leader Elizabeth May, whose Vancouver Island riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands is among the farthest from Ottawa, spent just $25,882 on travel and none for a designated traveller versus the average for all B.C. MPs of $48,969.
As prime minister, Justin Trudeau’s travel and living expense bill is paid for out of the budget for the Prime Minister’s Office and, consequently, his MP expenditure report shows zero dollars spent on travel.
Wayne Cuddington/Postmedia/File
Only one MP spent more on the travel bill for their designated traveller than Ambrose and that was B.C. Conservative MP Todd Doherty. Doherty, a first time MP, spent just over $29,000 between January and June so that his wife Kelly could travel with him.
The average for all B.C. MPs on spending for designated travellers was just $5,548.
“I don’t plan on working on another marriage,” Doherty said Tuesday in support of the House of Commons policy of providing funds for MPs to travel with their spouses.
The commute between Doherty’s central B.C. riding of Prince George—Cariboo and Parliament Hill is among the longest any MP makes and the travel bills for MPs from central and northern B.C. tend to always be among the highest in any Parliament.
Doherty said he returns to the riding from Ottawa every week, travel that begins in Ottawa at about 5 pm ET on Friday and ends when he gets to his home at 3:30 a.m. ET or later. After a Saturday in his riding, he turns around and begins the return trek before dawn on Sunday.
“I am very cognizant that it’s the taxpayers that pay the bill,” he said.
But while Doherty spent tens of thousands on travel, he spent a pittance on an expense category called “Constituency Leases, Insurance, and Utilities.” For the first six months of the year, he claimed just eight dollars in that category.
Doherty said he has just signed a lease for his riding office and it is back-dated to April so his expense report for the next quarter will be a bit more than that as his new office is costing $600 a month in rent.
Meanwhile, across the country, St. John’s East MP Nick Whalen, a Liberal, spent the most of any MP in this category: $50,120.  The average lease cost for all MPs was $18,823.
But while Whalen paid top dollar on his lease, he was among 29 MPs that spent nothing on furniture, furnishings, and new equipment so far this year.
Six other Liberal MPs, though, each spent more than $20,000 on furnishings for their riding office. Leading the way was Montreal-area MP Angelo Iacono who spent $26,462 furnishing his riding office after defeating a New Democrat MP last fall. The average among all MPs was just $3,717 and 29 MPs made no claims for furniture.
Arnold Viersen, the Conservative elected last fall in the Alberta riding of Peace River—Westlock has spent more than $65,000 so far this year on “repairs and maintenance.” Sven Spengemann, a Liberal from Mississauga, Ont., has spent more than $62,000 on repairs. The average was just $4,299 and 78 MPs spent nothing on repairs.
Spengemann said that, to avoid paying some of the highest monthly lease rates in the country for his riding office, he found an old coffee shop in a strip mall and spent his “repair” money to convert it into an office. He figures he’ll save money in the long run by spending less on a lease plus, he’s got a lot more parking for constituents than he might have had on a traditional main street storefront office.
Two other Liberals, Mississauga’s Iqra Khalid and Nepean, Ont.’s Chandra Arya, led all MPs in spending on “informatics and telecommunications equipment,” claiming $21,059 and $19,840 respectively or about five times the average of $4,122.  This category of spending is reserved for the purchase of computers and smartphones to be used by the MP and their staff.
I am very cognizant that it’s the taxpayers that pay the bill
By rule, incoming MPs should use the capital assets — desks, chairs, computers and so on — that were used by the MP they replaced.
Arya’s riding of Nepean, though, was one of the 30 “new” ridings and, as a result, he did not inherit any gear from a previous MP. That $19,840 was used to buy computers and smartphones for the MP plus eight staff and 1 intern.
Nonetheless, none of those details, other than the summary for each expense category, are required to be posted online.
“All of this reinforces what we were calling for after the McKenna—Philpott stuff: We want the scanned and posted receipts,” Wudrick said.
Environment and Climate Change Canada spent about $6,600 to hire a photographer to take photographs of Minister Catherine McKenna during her time at the Paris climate change summit. Health Minister Jane Philpott was discovered to have spent $1,700 for a single day’s worth of personal car service provided to her by a company owned by a political supporter.
Wudrick said that ministers and MPs should have receipts for their spending posted online to explain why, for example, Whalen spent $50,000 on a lease while Doherty spent $8 during the same period.
“It’s in the MP’s own interest the details be there,” Wudrick said.


The following table lists summary information from the Members’ Expenditure Reports for the period from January 1, 2016 to June 30, 2016, the most recent period for which information is available.

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