Premier Darrell Dexter said yesterday he will no longer expense his $3,000-per-year bar fees to taxpayers.

But he still insists expensing the fees was above board and said he will not reimburse the public purse for past fees.

“I think these are legitimate business expenses that are covered in private business routinely,” he told reporters yesterday.

But Dexter said controversy over the fees has made it harder for his government to communicate, so he thought it easier just to pay them himself.

“Simply put, this is getting in the way of us being able to communicate, I think, effectively on many of the other issues that have to be talked about,” he said.

The government will be reimbursed for the last couple months of this year’s bar fees of $3,119. Starting next year Dexter will pay his own way and switch his bar status from active to inactive, dropping the fees to about $250.

All MLAs have the option of expensing their bar fees so that they can remain active lawyers. While previous members such as former Tory finance minister Michael Baker also expensed fees, Dexter is the only current lawyer in the house not paying his own way.

The Liberals in particular have been banging the drum on the fees issue since it was revealed in the auditor general’s report last month. They’ve insisted Dexter should repay his past fees.

The premier initially said he would look into the fees issue but insisted there was nothing unethical. He announced he would pick up the tab during a live radio interview yesterday on News 95.7 but said there is no reason to pay back past fees.

Dexter said he believes the matter picked up steam because of the expense scandal controversy.

“I think we’re in an environment where any expenses, you know, this becomes a story,” he said.

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