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MLA spending probe unnecessary: Parties

The province’s three provincial parties maintain a public inquiry intoMLA spending is not necessary, despite recent developments.

The province’s three provincial parties maintain a public inquiry into MLA spending is not necessary, despite recent developments.

When the expense scandal broke last month auditor general Jacques Lapointe found rules to be so loose they “enabled misuse” but didn’t find anything illegal. All three parties vowed to fix the system but said an inquiry wasn’t necessary.

Since then, Lapointe has kicked off a forensic audit into MLA abuses. Last Friday Liberal MLA Dave Wilson announced he had retained a lawyer and resigned his Glace Bay seat after being contacted by the auditor general’s office.

Yesterday all three parties stood by their position a public inquiry into political spending wouldn’t be helpful.

“If there are any further problems (the audit) will bring those issues forward and they’ll be dealt with,” said Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil.

“What we need to do is allow the auditor to do his work. The auditor has the power to then refer anything that he might think is inappropriate to the police force for further investigation.”

The scope of the auditor general’s investigation only encompassed July 2006 to June 2009. The last look at MLA expenses was over 15 years ago. He also didn’t investigate use of the up to $48,000 per year in non-receiptable allowances.

While there is no paper trail, an inquiry could compel politicians to testify on how they spent the money.

Earlier this month MLAs held the first public meeting of the Internal Economy Board and stripped away many of their perks. But McNeil said the rules around what should or should not be expensed are still unclear.

“Everyone believes the system has been fixed by things being receipted and I don’t see that. I still think there are major comments that have not been addressed, he said.

“We haven’t fixed the system. There’s no guidelines now.”

 
 
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