Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Senate Expenses Mess Continues

So, a bunch more Conservative Senators have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

In one case, Senator Scott Tannas of Alberta billed $12,000 to taxpayers to fly himself and his wife in executive class to Ottawa for a two-day trip. 
Another senator, from Toronto, was one of the party's highest billers for travel despite being just an hour by air from the national capital.   
The pricey travel, found by a CBC News review, came at the same time as senators were debating whether or not to suspend three of their peers — Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau — for questionable spending practices.
I don't object to paying the travel expenses for the Senators as they travel to and from Ottawa on Senate business.  I may not even object too much to paying for "Executive Class" (or whatever first class is called today) if there is a reasonable justification for it.

I do object to paying for the flights of spouses, and I also object to paying for first class simply as a matter of course.  A first class ticket is in excess of $3,000.  An economy class ticket for the same trip is between $400 and $1000.  There has to be a good business reason for that upgrade.

As for spouses joining you on a trip, that should be paid for by the Senator, not by Canadians.  In private enterprise, it is rare indeed for a company to agree to pay the travel costs for a spouse joining an employee on a trip.

Perhaps what is most offensive about all this is that it comes from the very people, Conservatives, who have brayed long and hard about how government should be run more like a business.  What do we find?  Their snouts firmly in the public trough, at a time when the Senate itself is already being rocked by the revelations of four of their number who apparently have badly abused the very expense system in question.  Surely these Senators have more sense than that!

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