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EDITORIAL – Should taxpayers be paying for travel by MPs’ spouses?

MP Cathy McLeod in Parliament.

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger:

A COUPLE OF FAMILIAR POLITICAL NAMES are in the top six spenders for taxpayer-funded spouses’ travel over the past four years.

Jody Wilson-Raybould, former cabinet minister and now an Independent MP, spent almost $126,000 of your money and mine flying her husband back and forth across the country during that time. And Cathy McLeod, the incumbent member for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, spent just over $110,000.

For the most recent year ending March 31, McLeod expensed $32,000 for spousal travel. An average flight between Kamloops and Ottawa costs around $3,000, according to the reports for McLeod’s expenses.

By the way, you might also recognize the name of Mel Arnold. He’s the Conservative MP for North Okanagan-Shuswap. He racked up just over $121,000 under the designated traveler program.

The designated travel program is one in which MPs can give some of their allotted return trips  to someone else for the purposes of family unity or when the person represents the MP at something. It’s been going on since 1971.

In total, this travel cost taxpayers $4.5 million over the four years. A good investment of taxpayers’ dollars?

Being an MP, especially an MP from the West, isn’t easy. The travel schedule between Ottawa and B.C. is gruelling. It’s tough on the MP and tough on family life. Work-life balance is important and needs to be recognized.

But how much should we be paying for? Maybe MPs’ family members don’t have to fly Business class. Or, at least, maybe the MP or designated family member should pay for the upgrade from Economy.

And, just maybe, there should be stricter limits on the use of this designated traveler privilege.

Barring any of that, heaven forbid, MPs could police themselves and show more restraint.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (7056 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on EDITORIAL – Should taxpayers be paying for travel by MPs’ spouses?

  1. Yvonne Hummel // September 17, 2019 at 9:20 AM // Reply

    No, this is a complete slap in the face to the rest of us. They’re already overpaid, along with their hefty expense accounts, fat pensions, etc. If they want their spouses or whoever alongside them, they can easily afford to pay for that themselves. Also, learn how to fly economy rather than first class. As taxpayers, we did not sign up for flying family members of politicians all over the country year round. Let them skype or facetime if they want to see each other.

  2. Yes but in all such expenses there must be a ceiling.

  3. Dennis Isfeld // September 17, 2019 at 7:34 AM // Reply

    No. No other occupation in this country has these privileges.

  4. Yes they should exercise restrain and lots of it. And they all make more than plenty to begin with.

  5. Absolutely not, they applied for the job knowing the commitment they have to make and I’m sure they get a very healthy pay check and pension for the rest of their lives, unlike our seniors whom live in poverty!!!!!

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