What is it about traveling to exotic places on taxpayer dollars that outrages the so-called ordinary citizen more than any other kind of ‘entitlement’?
Less than a month ago, Alison Redford was Premier of Alberta. One of the items that prompted her to resign was a $45,000 bill for traveling to and from South Africa to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela.
Do you remember Bev Oda? She was a minister in Stephen Harper’s cabinet. She can look back on many accomplishments in public life before she left the political stage two years ago. She could have won the Nobel prize or helped to find a cure for a horrible disease, but none of it would have been remembered as well as her trip to London in June of 2011.
Instead, when you google Oda’s name, you are immediately reminded that she was the one who stayed in a $650 suite at the Savoy, and drank a $16 glass of orange juice that came from room service. Oda paid the money back to the public treasury, but the damage was done.
They’re going through a similar exercise in the legislature in Saskatchewan right now. A senior civil servant had to repay $7,000 which came from the public purse for a car service in London.
Most of these stories last for a couple of news cycles, then they’re replaced by a new flavour of the week. But it seems that the expenses that were rung up by Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin and others have raised the stakes. Transparency has been re-invented as the number one requirement in public life, and don’t expect to be entitled to any entitlements.
Both sides can come up with stories about expense claims being abused, but at the end of the day what does it really prove? Maybe it’s Pope Francis we should blame. He’s the guy who lives in the tiny caretaker apartment at the Vatican and rides public transit whenever he can. Amen.
I’m Roger Currie