Why Canada’s expense scandal resembles trench warfare

Tease the day: Politicians expend much energy yelling at each other’s apparent expensing misdeeds.


MP Eve Adams and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

Canada’s expense scandal has settled into a form of rhetorical trench warfare, where neither the opposition nor the government nor journalists are giving an inch on their various questions and answers about a gang of now-independent senators—and, more recently, a Member of Parliament—who either allegedly, or admittedly, claimed expenses improperly.

After weeks of questions about what role, if any, the Prime Minister’s Office played in the repayment of some of Senator Mike Duffy’s expenses, very little new information is forthcoming. The authorities continue to investigate, and everyone waits. Deloitte’s audit of Senator Pamela Wallin’s expenses continues, and amid all the speculation about just how much money she might owe taxpayers, everyone waits. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said he’d welcome Senator Mac Harb, formerly a Liberal and currently independent, back into the Liberal fold if he repaid his expenses. Harb has no intention of doing so. An investigation into his expenses continues, and everyone waits. On all fronts, every party is chirping across the aisle about some sort of malfeasance: Liberals are attacking Conservatives, Conservatives are attacking Liberals, and the NDP’s attacking everybody. Noise, everywhere.

Then, last night, the Ottawa Citizen‘s Glen McGregor reported that Conservative MP Eve Adams claimed a number of objectionable expenses during the 2011 federal election, including “hundreds of dollars for repeat visits to a hair and nail salons, skin care and grooming products, and even whitening toothpaste.” The story set off a proxy war on Twitter, where McGregor and Adams barked at each other late into the night, and into this morning, about the appropriateness of Adams’ claims.

Questionable expenses have now, fairly or unfairly, spilled into the House of Commons. How far it goes is anyone’s guess. But there were 308 winning candidates in the last election, and that’s plenty of election returns to scour. The free-for-all continues.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with new rules allowing federal officials to crack down on temporary foreign workers—by entering their workplaces without warrants. The National Post fronts Canada’s participation in a multinational military exercise in Jordan. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with a six-figure payout to Greg Reed, who’s resigning as the head of Ontario’s eHealth program. The Ottawa Citizen leads with the federal government forcing a union of customs workers to vote on the government’s latest contract offer. iPolitics fronts the federal opposition’s efforts to combat unpaid internships. CBC.ca leads with Turkish police moving protesters out of Istanbul’s Taksim Square. CTV News leads with Turkish authorities using tear gas and firing rubber bullets at protesters. National Newswatch showcases an Ottawa Citizen story about controversial personal expenses claimed by MP Eve Adams during the last federal election.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Tasing trial. One of the RCMP officers involved in the death of Robert Dziekanski in October 2007, Const. Bill Bentley, pleaded not guilty to lying at the public inquiry into the high-profile case. 2. Archives. Heritage Minister James Moore says he’ll ask the new head of Library and Archives Canada to restore a program meant to help small communities develop archival material.
3. Ashley Smith. A psychiatrist who recommended three cavity searches of troubled inmate Ashley Smith in 2007 said the procedures were necessary because Smith was hiding ligatures. 4. Abuse. A 78-year-old Nova Scotia woman whose past involves harming men in her life pleaded guilty to drugging her husband during their Newfoundland honeymoon last year.
5. World Bank. Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, says he hopes governments around the world can work to eradicate extreme poverty—incomes of less than $1.25 a day—by 2030. 6. Nuclear bombs. The Netherlands is storing 22 U.S.-built nuclear weapons in an underground bunker, according to former Dutch prime minister Ruud Lubbers, who called the bombs “silly.”


Why Canada’s expense scandal resembles trench warfare

  1. There is enough evidence to convince most people that our elected and appointed representatives are abusing the system and taxpayers’ money. While I suspect it has been going on for a long time those representing us are now being exposed. That is a good thing. Maybe just maybe changes will be made to expense reporting and those who profess to represent ordinary Canadians will begin to be more accountable and transparent about the expenses they claim. Claiming expenses without receipts is asking for fraud and abuse.

    • Congratulations, hollinm, on harvesting 22 (and counting) thumbs up, including mine. You must be wondering if you’ve wandered onto the wrong comment board. ;)

      • No! You are still a pile of Harper haters. However, sometimes a comment will connect. Why? Because it was not a partisan attack. I am guilty as well as the rest on this board.

        • H-mmm…you seem to be lacking, shall we say, grace in the art of receiving compliments.

          Pardon my mistake. What was I thinking? I won’t do that again.

        • and with good reason, no?

          hypocrisy is never really appreciated, is it?

  2. Eve Adams is a very pretty dolt, and I say that only because I have seen her political program performances, where she really is an amateur. She is expensing hair and nails, impossible to defend — I mean, we do pay these people a salary, right? A good one, with percs. And for those who don’t know: her “fiance” is Dimitri Soudas, Harper’s former communications guy who has just been identified for tax evasion — he owes more than $60,000. So they live off taxpayers; she is paid to represent taxpayers, and yet they cannot pay their taxes or for their own hair stylist — as even the most modest taxpaying citizen is expected to do. This is a shameful lot, and I hope we see the end of them asap.

    If I was Eve Adams, instead of defending this crap on Twitter for all to see, I would be embarrassed and refund that $2,000. Surely she can afford to pay for her own nails — sheesh.

    • Pretty? matter of opinion of course. But dolt? No question of that if she has chosen to hook up with Soudas. Talk about the “ewwww” factor! I feel like I need to wash my hands anytime I read about him.

    • Just a little clarification: she’s claiming these things as an election expense, not an MP expense so the money came from party supporters. One could argue that they do get an election expense refund so if she did have to pay that back it would be a couple hundred bucks. IMO, I might be able to see the justification for some expenses like this if you’re doing TV interviews and photos during an election.

      • Do you also defend her spouse’s tax evasion?

        There is no justification for taxpayer’s having to pick up the tab for a vain stupid woman to have her hair and nails done at any time, whether during an election campaign or for a Friday night dinner out. Just no. We have other things to pay for — like healthcare and MP orange juice.

        • Soudas did pay the back taxes, fwiw. Also, it doesn’t sound like he was evading paying, it was an oversight. (Yes, I know, a common excuse, but it sounds legit in this case.)

          • A $60,000 oversight? I should have such problems — so that must have been over several years, I guess?

          • Most likely an administrative dispute . . . isn’t it always?

          • So you were right that he’s repaid, and I was right that he ignored repeated requests over several years: “In its certificate applying for the judgment in March 2012, Révenu Quebec said its application came after it sent repeated notices of assessment to Soudas over the course of three years between May 20, 2008and April 19, 2011….In the Soudas case, the documents indicate Revenu Quebec made a number of attempts to collect the taxes from Soudas before seeking a judgment, said Rankin. “The signed notice … shows that notice of assessments were sent or served regarding Dimitri Soudas. So there were many efforts to collect this money.”

          • Ah, yes… I read that story when it came out. Thanks for the refresher.

            As a complete aside, how much would it suck to owe that much in taxes?

      • From Laura Payton’s twitter feed, moments ago: “Expenses claimed by Eve Adams’s campaign include salon, Hy’s, $2.63 at cupcake shop 3 weeks after #elxn41 http://ow.ly/lV7qy #hw”

      • Listen Cory, I don`t know if you are knew around here but we don`t appreciate the kind of truthiness you`re peddling.

        If McGregor and Vaisey want to show their bias by implying that the expenses claimed by Adams came from public, taxpayer funds, then please don`t bother to correct disciples like patch who simply want to believe the worst every time, and have no interest in accuracy.

        Liberals are infamous for using public funds for Party purposes, so they assume that all political parties use the same unethical practices as them.

        • For the sake of accuracy here…

          She’s reimbursed 60 per cent from the public purse (taxpayers) for election expenses.

          There’s the other element, too, that regardless of who pays for what, there’s a $200 cap on those kinds of expenses under the campaign rules. That, to me, is the bigger issue.

          • Why is it front page news when an MP charges too much for personal grooming under the EC rules?

            Why is it NOT front page news when several Liberal MP’s have not complied with the EC rules in regards to the payback of loans?

            Does the money used not come from all the same tax payer’s money? Are not all donations deductible?

            Why such front page news now over some $2.500?

          • Left wing media conspiracy?

          • HAS to be!

          • So when liberal media report that Adams claims even incidental expenses as official campaign expenses that have a spending limit, then that is wrong, wrong , wrong.

            One would think that these investigative sleuths would be happy to see a candidate reporting all expenses as part of the spending limit.

            I wonder if one of these investigative sleuths, or maybe yourself, could tell us if this $200 cap you speak off, would include the purchase of new socks and underwear during the campaign.

            You know, this is the type of petty journalism that`s flushing the profession down the crapper.
            You want to do something substantial—-find out why the 40 million from Adscam was never paid back to the taxpayer.

          • Andrew. Sigh. You call it “petty journalism” because they are reporting on it. Just like Bev Oda’s orange juice, and Dingwall’s chewing gum. Fair enough: you think it’s petty — but the rest of us want to make comment on an article that is here, so why can’t you just bugger off if it’s too petty for you? It’s not up to you to say what reporters should report on, and by crowing all over here that expensing cupcakes three weeks after the election is A-Okay with you, but that reporting or commenting on it is petty — you are kind of making it a bigger deal than you say you think it is.

          • I`m not surprised that you would insult me but isn`t it rather 19th century to refer to Eve Adams as a “pretty dolt”.
            After all there is a certain leader of a third Party that many ( not I ) would refer to with that description.
            Try to be more tolerant of those not blessed with your intellect.

          • I’m not sure (at this point) that she tried to claim more than $200. EC requires that all receipts be submitted, whether they are claimable expenses or not. We need to know if her claim for those expense items was for more than $200, not what the total expense report amounted to, before calling foul. If her claim was for the full amount, I look forward to a future underbussing of someone from her campaign team.

          • Not only is she reimbursed 60 percent, but +/-50% of that original donation was paid by taxpayers.

  3. The Eve Adams “reveal” by McGregor doesn’t strike me as that bad, if she only intended to claim the maximum $200 allowed for things like clothing, hair, and other personal effects. If she planned or tried to claim the full amount for her many hair treatments, then yes, that’s bad.

    The childcare expenses are legitimate and appropriate, if she’s telling the truth about the reason for that expense. I would hope that all campaigners with young children are allowed to claim legitimate child care expenses in this day and age.

  4. Helena Guergis, redux. Even providing similar backdrop in QP.

    Didn’t HG try to claim for a $700 purse and shoes or some such things, her younger sister trying to take the rap (tho HG signed the expenses)?

  5. Eve Adams spent $11,791 on 2010 Mississauga election party or appreciation notices, $10,198 for post election storage, (and did not pay $1,000 bar rental bill for 2011 federal election campaign party). Councillor Nando Iannicca 2010 spent, $17,565 for voting day party, $1,327 for clothing, & $6,782 for furniture. http://t.co/tiVlTsNMzH

  6. This is a tempest in a teapot as usual. However, the more important issue is why are MP’s allowed to claim a maximum expense of $200. Most of us get haircuts as part of our normal grooming. So if she wants to do her hair then she should pay for it herself whether campaigning or not. There is far too much of this stuff going on. So while I say this issue in itself is minor the general topic of expenses is important. These MPs/Senators who abuse or take advantage of a too generous system need to be exposed for what they are. A bunch of leeches.

    • I completely agree with this comment. Thumbzup to you, all day so far!

  7. I remember when the policy wonk of the Reform party said they wouldn’t use the govt. barber. Does anyone remember when the policies of the Reform party were about M.P. independence and saving the tax payers money?
    Who was policy chair then – hmmm – oh yeah, a young man named Stephen Harper.

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