The province’s most prolific double-dipper says the system was confusing and hard to follow.
NDP MLA Michele Raymond submitted double claims on 10 occasions, for a value of $3,071. She said yesterday it was all a mistake.
“Of course I’m sorry, and I’m very anxious to reimburse the public,” she said.
Raymond said she was “overzealous” in filing receipts because she was anxious to back up claims. She filed her most costly expense, $1,290 for a newspaper ad, twice because she thought it would be turned down the first time. She admitted she didn’t check to see it wasn’t.
Raymond said she tried to be a good steward of public money and thinks her constituents will understand.
“I don’t know whether they actually elected me to be a bookkeeper or not. I hope that I have more to offer than just my accounting abilities,” she said.
Most double expenses were isolated, small amounts. Others were much higher, such as Ron Chisholm (twice, $1,045), Clarrie MacKinnon (once, $1,238), Percy Paris (five times, $1,551), Murray Scott (four times, $1,141) and Leonard Preyra (four times, $2,207).
Preyra was eager to explain his bill when reached yesterday. He said he was double-charged himself by a furniture store for $1,678 — thus the double expense — and his staff didn’t notice because it spanned separate calendar years and he had a changeover of assistants.
He said another $345 charge was actually two separate advertising bills of equal amounts.
Preyra said MLAs frequently get double-billed and it can be tough to catch them all.
Finance minister looks to stay mum
• Finance Minister Graham Steele, once the lone proponent of expense reform, now hopes to watch on in silence.
“The important thing is the system be reformed and that’s now happening. To be perfectly honest, the situation I’m in now is … the more I say, the more opinions I express about this, the more likely it is that will actually get in the way of positive reform,” he said.
“Let me put it this way: When a snowball is rolling downhill, sometimes it’s good to give it a push and sometimes it’s good to just stay out of the way.”