Can you lend me a ride?

Julian Wolfe
May 6th, 2012

If the current amount of abuse of our money wasn’t enough, this government’s baggage is about to get heavier. They say there is no money for pensions. They say there is no money for things that Canadians desire and need, but there is plenty of cash floating around for their perks.

A recent CTV investigation emptied the parking lot at Parliament Hill, angered drivers and sent Conservative MPs into the defensive. MPs were charging Canadians overtime for unnecessary luxury drivers for every trip they decided to make – even the ones that could have been done through walking.

The investigation revealed that the average ministerial driver was paid a salary of $46,883 to $50,755, plus an average of $20,000 in overtime. All 26 ministers and 11 junior ministers used and abused this service. The total overtab came to $600,000 on the taxpayers’ tab. Each chauffer racked up hundreds of overtime hours between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011.

Among the most expensive customers were Public Works and Government Services Minister Rona Ambrose, who billed the government $40,074 for over 1,000 overtime hours. Current treasury board minister, and then industry minister Tony Clement had his driver kept on standby for a year and the government was billed accordingly. (You can see the table at the end of this article for a per MP basis)

NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus charged at the Conservatives asking, “How do the Conservatives have the nerve to tell Canadians that the cupboard is bare while ministers on the front-benches are stuffing themselves on perks and entitlements?”

“For crying out loud, even Batman drives his own car,” Angus said. “All were asking is for them to show a little respect for the taxpayer once in a while.”

Clement defended the costly perks claiming that MPs and their chauffers work hard.

“Our ministers are working long hours for the economy, long hours for jobs, long hours for the people of Canada, and sometimes that means a bit of overtime by the drivers,” Clement said.

Acknowledging his mistake, Clement said that the government would look to reexamine the use of drivers.

“What we are doing is looking at the picture of drivers and their cars and making sure that we can have a reasonable approach to this,” Clement said.

Clement and Ambrose weren’t the only ones cashing in. If the luxury hotel wasn’t enough for International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda, she tabbed Canadians for limozine costs as well. The limo service cost $1,000 per day and Oda has since repayed this sum.

Liberal ethics critic Scott Adams noted the day after the news broke that the parkinglot which was filled with chauffers, cashing in on taxpayers’ expense, was bare.

“We noticed today they’re all hiding out around back,” Adams said. “They’re afraid to roll into Parliament in their black little limos today.”

Adams charged that the second largest cabinet in Canadian history containing 37 members could have the decensy to to share cars and drivers and even use the free parliamentary buses that are available – or walk.

“They’re telling everyone else to tighten their belts but they’re living high on the hog,” Andrews said. “They believe this is what they’re entitled to and they’re not willing to even cut back on some of their own perks.”

So Tony Clement says that the drivers are necessary to rebuilding the economy. What do you think, should MPs be allowed to keep their perks – the ones they were ashamed of showing off once they got caught by the imfamous “Liberal media”?

If one thing is for sure, if the next government has a moral conscience and if the next government has any decensy, MP perks and benefits will be abolished and salaries and pensions re-examined. The days of entitlement are over.

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   Categories: Bureaucracy, Government Mismanagement, Scandal, Spending

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On Monday, the longest campaign in modern history will come to a close and if current polls are any indication, Canada may be seeing a change in government after 9 years of Conservative rule under the leadership of Stephen Harper. Accountability was his calling card in 2006 and today, accountability may very well be one of the defining reasons for his departure.

In its length, in its cost and in its debate schedule, this election is unusual. The first and possibly only real debate of the campaign ended and here are the highlights of what happened.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper left Rideau Hall this morning with Governor General David Johnston’s approval to drop the writ and Canadians are now officially headed to the polls on October 19. For the first time since fixed election date legislation was brought in by the Conservative government, a fixed election date has been followed.

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