Liberals question value of overseas NDP trips - Metro US

Liberals question value of overseas NDP trips

The Liberals are accusing the provincial government of wasteful jet-setting as another high-ranking NDP officer prepares to fly overseas.

Speaker Charlie Parker heads the office in charge of handling MLA expense reforms. He’s heading to a Council of State Governments meeting in Maine from today to Saturday, then Sunday he flies to England for a 12-day Westminster Seminar on parliamentary practices.

“It’s almost like they’ve not understood the severity of the anger Nova Scotians have towards this issue,” Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said of the expense scandal. He said Parker needs to be in the province to oversee fixes to the system.

Opposition members have criticized other recent NDP trips as wasteful, such as Premier Darrell Dexter heading to Copenhagen and the Winter OIympics in Vancouver.

“Find me a report from any one of the last trips they’ve gone on, or anyone has gone on, that tells you what benefit there was to Nova Scotians,” McNeil said. “You can’t find one.”

Reached by phone yesterday, Parker said the trip to Maine is necessary because Halifax will be hosting the 2011 meeting of the Council of State Governments next August. He said about 700 people will be coming from 12 eastern states and the five other eastern provinces.

As for the London trip, Parker called it “an investment in democracy.”

“This is a unique opportunity for me as speaker to go and rub shoulders with other parliamentarians and, hopefully, bring back some good ideas we can use here in Nova Scotia,” he said.

He didn’t know the total cost of the trip, but his registration fees for the seminar are $600. Parker noted past speakers have attended the seminar and said it helps teach how to best serve constituents in a parliamentary democracy.

Parker said he will be able to keep in constant touch with his office through telephone and email so reform work will not be held up.

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