Accountability hysteria

Government house leader Jay Hill, a spokesman for the Board of Internal Economy, laments the attention the current debate over MP expenses has received, but acknowledges it might be discussed further at the board. Fisheries Minister Gail Shea isn’t concerned either way. Conservative Daryl Kramp says an auditor general audit is inevitable but unnecessary. The NDP caucus is split: Charlie Angus says it needs to be worked out with the auditor general, Pat Martin, Peter Stoffer and Peter Julian say open the books, Yvon Godin is obstinate. Liberal Marlene Jennings calls for disclosure. Liberal Bryon Wilfert defends the status quo.




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Accountability hysteria

  1. At least it's a non-partisan issue. There are MPs in all parties who are reluctant to open their books.

    • Makes you wonder how deep the stink goes and how far they will go to cover for each other.

      • Chris, there might some stink indeed but I don't think that this is the main concern. An audit of their expenses is one thing. But what about the ensuing media coverage? Do you think that it will be fair and unbiased?

        • What about the current media coverage?

          • I don't have an issue with the current coverage but I'm pretty clear that it will be a free for all once those books are made public. Cue the "she actually charged taxpayers for her pantyhose" headlines.

          • More damaging will be the "he actually charged taxpayers for his Depends".

          • Yikes. Yet another reason I'm glad I'm not a federal MP . . .

        • We are talking about a half billion dollars, I'm not concerned about the few hundred thousand the MP's expense, I want to know about the out of court settlements and other things that are paid for out of this money that we have no idea about.

  2. What is the war in Afghanistan actually costing? Did we get good value for all those single source military supply contracts? Who received stimulus/infrastructure funding and for how much? How much will the proposed "tough on crime" legislation cost?

    Once we've got solid information to base decisions on, then maybe we could move on to re-auditing the expenses of MP's. Until then can we drop all this small town look-at-what-he's-driving-while-we-have-potholes pettiness?

  3. Whereas I believe that taxpayers are shareholders in the grand mass that is the Government of Canada, I posit that we should have available to us quarterly and annual reports detailing the revenues and expenditures (and other financial statements) of all government departments, agencies, boards, and commissions, as well as the taxpayer-reimbursed expenses of MPs.

    • Byon Wilfert provides a helpful link for MP's expenses on his web site. http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/process/h

      Could there be more detail? Sure why not?

      But let's be clear that what's in question is whether there should be a performance audit to see if we got value for the money. In other words the auditor general is going to use accountancy to judge the value of representation received for the expenditures.

      • But let's be clear that what's in question is whether there should be a performance audit to see if we got value for the money. In other words the auditor general is going to use accountancy to judge the value of representation received for the expenditures.

        I'm slightly saddened that it's even a question. One of the greatest positives of accountability is encouraging value for investment/tax dollars/etc.

        • Yes, but I do worry that some things can't be measured in terms of dollars. For example, how much did it cost when Michaelle Jean went up North? Now, the pricetag would be the same whether or not she ate the seal meat, right? But I think most of us (here on these boards) found that to be of great value in terms of showing support for the seal hunt, which has taken a particular drubbing. But how much value? Precisely? Did it wipe out her entire travel expenses for the year? Did it merely recoup the costs of that particular trip? How can we tell?

          • How much did it cost taxpayers for Harper to entertain entertainers at 24 Sussex?

  4. The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    • Perfect.

  5. There's no way the expesnes aren't going to be audited. Whether it's today, next week or next month, everyone will cave. As I said earlier, someone should stand up and say after listening to Canadians they agree to an audit for their MPs and Senators. The first one to do so will look quite good in the eyes of Canadians, although if neither Harper, ignatieff or Layton can recognize a belt high fastball when they see one, that probably explains the polls.

    • I thought there was a pretty good discussion of this on CBC's At Issue panel last night. Arguing about the minutiae of this issue, bringing up wonkish procedural points, etc. — all of that is politically futile. In the mind of the average Canadian voter/taxpayer, the train has already left the station on this issue. Either get on board or get squashed on the tracks. Any MP who thinks that he/she can successfully fight this — or who thinks that fighting this is a politically wise idea — is an idiot.

      • To paraphrase Samuel Langhorne Clemens:

        Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a Member of Parliament.?

        But I repeat myself.

  6. I still think that Saint-Sheila is power tripping.

    • It looks like veteran observers on Parliament Hill, and those who have a grasp of procedural and legal niceties etc. (such as Shiela Fraser's technical mandate) are on board with you on that. But politically, none of that matters.

      If I were advising an MP on this, I would paraphrase one of my wise colleagues: this is not the hill to die on.

      • Agreed but it must be said that Fraser put them in an embarrassing situation and I firmly believe that it was deliberate. She saw what happened in England. She had to have known about the implications of her request.

        I have a problem with that.

        • I'm with you on this one. It isn't up to the auditor general to judge the effectiveness of my MP, that's my job.

          • I guess an interesting related question is: if the A-G is indeed running amok and getting a tad drunk with her power, how do you check that?

          • Who audits the Auditor General?

          • Excellent point.

            LOL – maybe the MP's should make an agreement – Ms. Fraser, we'll let you check us out if you let us check you out.

          • Good question. I personally think that she's untouchable and she knows it. How do you go about pointing the finger at the Auditor General w/o suffering from some serious political blowback?

            The only people who could get away with that are the members of the press gallery… I think.

          • Harper's next attack ad: Shiela Fraser: Just Visiting.

            Naah, I guess that wouldn't work.

          • maybe so … but as someone stated elsewhere, in order for me to be able to judge the effectiveness (and honesty) of my MP I need to know the facts ….. Oh, sorry, I forgot we get these periodic news-from-the-hill letters that supposedly show us that they're worth their $$ …

  7. Heh CBC!! Open up your books too, (kady, how could you!)

    …The Crown Corporation received $1.2-billion last year from Ottawa – roughly twice the $544-million spent on Parliament. It is currently in a Federal Court battle with the Access to Information Commissioner, who disputes the CBC's blanket refusal to disclose any information regarding its journalistic, creative or programming activities, citing section 68.1 of the Access to Information Act. ..
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/otta

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