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Conservatives Max Out Travel Expenses

From May 28, 2008

When questioned about unusually high travel expenses, the Conservative party likes to change the numbers after the fact. In the case of Maxime Bernier, his flight to Laos for a two day conference cost tax-payers $22,573. That is, until a few days later when the Foreign Affairs website was changed to read $13,919. Kevin Donovan of the Toronto Star notes that Bernier could have travelled there comfortably for $7,000.

Meanwhile, Brian Jean, MP for Fort McMurray-Athabasca, took 11 days to attend a five day conference in Paris, registering an expenditure of $13,896, including $4,969 for accommodations. The Government of Canada website originally listed the MP's trip as 15 days, but this had been "a clerical error."

Labour Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn's travel expenses were harder to obtain as they were not disclosed on his department's website. But examination of documents by the opposition NDP revealed that in the first year of the Conservative's minority government, Blackburn had racked up $150,000 in charter flights.

Another member of Harper's cabinet, Minister of Transport Lawrence Cannon, did not report that he had taken at least six chartered flights by executive jet in 2006. Use of the executive jet costs approximately $9,000 per hour.

Notes Jack Layton, leader of the NDP: "This is a party that ran on the principle of transparency and openness." It seems clear that, in the next election, the Conservative Party will not be able to run on that one again.

Nor on saving money for the Canadian tax-payer.