The coffee-maker conundrum - Macleans.ca
 

The coffee-maker conundrum

Are we ready to know how our MPs furnish their offices?


 

This is likely a reality that we will need to confront as we proceed toward a world of total and full transparency: some of the people who represent us have purchased coffee-makers for their offices.

If every MP’s every expense was made public tomorrow—as they should be—we would probably learn that several of them have purchased coffee-makers. Some of them might even have purchased vaguely fancy coffees to go with those coffee makers. And then it would be possible to write stories about how “Our MPs spent $7,000 on coffee-makers last year!” and “While you struggle to pay the bills, MPs are using your tax dollars to give themselves offices that are something more than windowless concrete squares with spare light bulbs dangling from the ceiling.”

It is, for sure, for our MPs to explain and justify how they spend the public’s money. But we should always be careful to avoid lazy outrage. Or at least we should be mindful to focus on the real enemy—flagrant abuses of the public trust that lack justification. Perspective is also important. Parliament’s ability to scrutinize the billions in spending that it approves each year should, I will earnestly suggest, generally be of greater concern than however much parliamentarians spend on coffee-makers.

Of course, the possibility that we might be distracted by coffee-maker purchases is no excuse to avoid detailing the exact cost, shape and usefulness of every coffee-maker purchased with public funds. I suspect that after some fussing over coffee-makers, we’d all adjust to a world in which we understood our MPs to sometimes both consume coffee themselves and provide it for their staff and guests. Or so I dare to dream.


 

The coffee-maker conundrum

  1. We should encourage them to make their own. Even a medium Timmies is $1.65, so if they’re making it in the office with “fancy coffee”, it’s still cheaper than that.

    The outrage shuld come if they don’t have their own coffee maker.

    • …AND if they are expensing their Timmies. If they are paying for it themselves, who cares?

  2. Caffeinated employees are better workers. As their employer, I would encourage them to consume as much caffeine as possible by whatever means they prefer.

  3. Excellent stuff and bang on, Aaron. How we react (and how the media covers) the release of information as to where and how money is spent is going to be interesting.

  4. Amazing…..Canadians get all worked up about $16 OJs and actually want to count the cups of coffee…..and yet on F-35s…..crickets.

  5. The questioning of a coffee-maker expense is exactly what is needed. This is a broken-window type of argument. If we ensure our public employees understand that their purchases, even a cup of coffee, will be scrutinized then they will think twice about making unnecessary or extravagant expenses.

    If you account for the nickles, the dollars will balance.

  6. Coffee…fooey…I want to know who had the last slice of pecan pie.
    I’m all for this stuff in principle, as long as it allows mps to spend more time looking at the big ticket items rather then seeing which mp has blown the caffeine budget.
    The real elephant in the room are issues like the govts refusal to provide parliament with all the relevant documents when parliament asks for them… the f35 file being a case in point.