If you’re a resident of the South Surrey/White Rock/Cloverdale federal electoral district, congratulations!
Your member of Parliament, Conservative Russ Hiebert, is the highest-spending MP in Canada, not counting Manitoba’s Steven Fletcher, who is a quadriplegic and can make a case for the extra expense money.
Hiebert declared $637,093 in expenses in 2008-09. Quite a distinction, considering the competition. Only senators do less for more.
Wondering what’s so special about Hiebert, garden variety back-bencher? Keep guessing, because an all-party committee has rejected auditor general Sheila Fraser’s request to conduct an audit of the House of Commons and MPs’ expenses.
Ironically, six of the top seven hogs at the national trough in B.C. are Conservatives, who like to come across as all fiscally responsible when they’re just like any other politician ever minted — really good at spending other peoples’ money.
As you can imagine, Hiebert has tried to defend himself. Most of that cash, he says, goes to travel expenses, as he likes to fly the wife and kids to Ottawa, because like any good Tory, he’s got family values.
That’s great, but we didn’t elect Mrs. Hiebert and the two little Hieberts. If Russ wants to snuggle into the bosom of his family, he should do it at his expense, not ours. Just like everyone else.
This sense of entitlement has become quite epidemic in Ottawa. Of course, the poster girl for MP arrogance is former Tory cabinet minister Helena Guergis, who nearly tried to hijack an airplane to remove herself from the “hellhole” that is Prince Edward Island, after working her “ass off for you people.”
But she’s hardly the only one. I’ve been awake at night trying to figure out how Blochead MP Maria Mourani managed to run up a $34,205 phone bill between her Ottawa and Montreal office during the same fiscal year. Official separatist business, no doubt.
Meanwhile, MLAs across the various provinces are proving just as reluctant to disclose the details of their spending. In Alberta, the so-called Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act actually forbids the release of MLA expenses.
Here in B.C., both government and opposition members express a willingness to discuss greater transparency — in a management committee that meets at an undisclosed time in the strictest confidence!
As government thrusts its grubby paw ever deeper into our pockets, MLAs and MPs should be accountable for every glass of Shiraz they guzzle on our behalf.
These people need to learn there’s no such thing as a free lunch, especially when the taxpayer is picking up the tab.