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Never mind the auditor general


 

David Eaves proposes a solution to the current dispute over MP expenses.

Today, the accounts are kept in a digital format. It should be easy to convert them to Microsoft Excel or another computer format. They could be posted online where anyone could download and look at them at no cost. And, as the Guardian newspaper proved last year, thousands and thousands of people would be interested in using their computers to analyze and write about them….

What Parliament needs to do is hand over their expense accounts to everyone. Indeed, I am making a formal request right now. I would like Parliament to invite Canadian taxpayers – the people who vote for them, who pay their salaries, and who cover their expenses – to review their books. Please take all the expenses and post them online. Today.


 

Never mind the auditor general

  1. Not a bad idea, but when you think about it it is getting citizens to do the job for free that journalists have traditionally been tasked with, division of labour and all that. We'd be slaving over Excel spreadsheets while media bozos go on about whether Harper ate a communion wafer or not. I of course would build on Eaves' proposal by proposing a parallel structure empowering "peoples' commissars" to investigate public institutions (and media) full time and swiftly correct any problems they encounter.

    One other solution would be to audit and make public MPs expenses from this point forward and forget about what has happened. It is in a way almost unfair to allow a culture of unaccountability to fester for years, one that encourages malfeasance, then suddenly shine a spotlight on activity which was tacitly endorsed and allowed for years. This compromise would get MPs to do the right thing from now on which would be a win.

  2. Well, this raises the question of who we want to act as judge and jury on expense accounts. The AG, or citizens themselves. I also don't see why media outlets wouldn't do their own analyses on these published expense numbers.

    In essence, I suppose that the fear of MPs is that the AG will demagogue her audit findings. Or they're just scared silly of having her go through their expense accounts. I guess it's one or the other.

    • Well, this raises the question of who we want to act as judge and jury on expense accounts. The AG, or citizens themselves.

      You can easily have both. The AG can be there to ensure compliance with laws, as is her job. And Canadians can take a look for themselves to see if they approve of their Minister's spending habits.

      Frankly, I'd like to see everything online (so long as it isn't a national security risk).

      • The AG can be there to ensure compliance with laws

        I guess the fear for some MPs is that she would do more than that.

        For example, Joe Comartin is critical of Nova Scotia's AG for calling out the premier for having two laptops instead of one.

        Some of these things are judgement calls, and some MP's believe that the judgement should be made by voters.

        In fact, I tend to agree that we give some of these top civil servants an awful lot of power – in politics.

        I have no problem with having all the expenses fully detailed on a Web site somewhere. Do we need more than that? I'm not so sure.

  3. My quibble is that Mr. Eaves refers to taxpayers as voters, etc. Whatever happened to citizenship? Taxpayers do not necessarily vote, as demonstrated by the millions of corporations that pay taxes in the tune of tens of billions, not to mention foreigners who work and play in Canada, also paying taxes.

    Tax-payers are not the stakeholders we should be worrying about. It's the citizens, stupid!

  4. Yes, right, they're going to do that.

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