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NDP won’t reveal old expenses

Premier Darrell Dexter is refusing to release more than a decade ofsecret MLA expense claims to the public, but Tory Leader Karen Caseysays people will see this as concealing information.

Premier Darrell Dexter is refusing to release more than a decade of secret MLA expense claims to the public, but Tory Leader Karen Casey says people will see this as concealing information.

Currently journalists and the public cannot see 12 years of secret MLA expenses filed between 2006 and the last expense audit in the mid-90s.

Auditor general Jacques Lapointe’s examination of 2006-2009 expenses revealed numerous excessive and inappropriate claims that sparked a forensic audit and possible criminal charges.

MLA expenses before that time frame are exempt from freedom of information requests. Yesterday Dexter said he doesn’t see any value in making them public.

“I’m not interested in engaging in a fishing expedition going back years and years and years,” he said.

“What we’re interested in is having good rules for the house of assembly that provide transparency for the public and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil was onside, saying politicians should only look forward.

“The focus, in my view, should be on implementing those changes because that’s what Nova Scotians want,” he said.

“Continuing to go back and rehash and rehash and rehash is not going to fix the challenges that are there and it’s not going to instill confidence in Nova Scotians about the system.”

But Casey was at odds, saying she supports opening up the years of secret expenses.

“I think the one message that we have to make sure Nova Scotians get out of all of this is that it is open, it is transparent and, if it wasn’t in the past, it will be in the future. Anybody who is opposed to that would be seen to be withholding information,” she said.

Casey acknowledged more embarrassing expenses could possibly be revealed.

“If that will confirm that yes, there was something to hide or no, there wasn’t, the only way to find out is to open them up,” she said.

Release of latest audit
Premier Darrell Dexter said he will release the names of MLAs involved in a forensic audit of expenses as long as the auditor general does not object. The audit is expected sometime this or next week. During the last expense report names and amounts were revealed slowly over the course of weeks.

 
 
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