UPDATE, June 5, 2013: Justin Trudeau has reportedly now proposed to publish, quaterly, details of travel and hospitality expenses for MPs, senators and staff. The statement about this plan was made a month after Tomorrow asked whether he would follow through with his own call for “openness”. Mr Trudeau has still not answered Tomorrow’s question, but has made this move on openness. Is it enough? Tomorrow asked the same question of the Conservative Party of Canada’s Peter Van Loan MP and the New Democratic Party’s Nathan Cullen MP. Neither have responded as yet.
CANADA’S newest political party leader has failed to answer whether he will reveal the expenses of his MPs and senators.
Justin Trudeau, who took the helm of the Liberal Party of Canada in April after a lengthy campaign to follow in the footsteps of his father and former prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, has not responded to a yes-or-no question about expenses paid by the public purse.
Our #OpenTomorrow campaign requires that we fight for openness on the part of organisations, governments and individuals of influence where it is in the public interest, especially when it involves public funds and makes an impact on the public.
Mr Trudeau repeatedly uses the word “openness” in his speeches about Canada and what Canadians expect of their government.
But both elected MPs and unelected senators have opposed detailed accounting of their spending, which contribute to the more than $1/2 billion cost to the public.1
Through Mr Trudeau’s press spokeswoman, Kate Monfette, Tomorrow asked if he would tell his MPs and senators to release their expenses, or free them to do so. If not, what reason was there for not publishing spending details.
Tomorrow emailed four times and phoned three times from May 3 and has still not received a reply.
In both Mr Trudeau’s leadership showcase speech and in his acceptance of the leadership of the party, he said the Liberal Party of Canada would champion “openness”. As such, can Mr Trudeau confirm whether he will lead by example and, yes or no:
A) Instruct all Liberal MPs and Senators to proactively publish their full and detailed expenses, with receipts?
or B) Give all Liberal MPs and Senators the freedom to choose to proactively publish their full and detailed expenses, with receipts, as Michelle Simson did when she was a Liberal MP or as Green MP Elizabeth May does currently?
If no, can Mr Trudeau confirm what would prevent the “openness” of MPs currently?2
In Mr Trudeau’s speech for the Liberal leadership “showcase” on April 6, 2013, he said: “With hope and hard work, every day Canadians live the values that unite this country. Optimism, openness, compassion, service to community, generosity of spirit.”3
When he was announced as party leader, on April 14, the MP for Papineau, Quebec, said: “Canadians share deep values that cannot be shaken, no matter how hard the Conservative Party may try. Optimism. Openness. Compassion. Service to community.”4
Canada’s previous auditor general, Sheila Fraser, asked permission from MPs and senators in 2009 to do a performance audit, but both rejected the attempt.
When a report was finally submitted in 2012 by current auditor general Michael Ferguson to parliament’s Board of Internal Economy, it did not name names behind some of the irregularities found. It concluded the “appropriate control systems” were in place.5
Senators and MPs were given a pay rise from April 1, 2013, making their base pay $135,000 and $160,200 respectively. They claim expenses over and above those rates, which also do not include bonuses for posts such as speaker, party leader, ministers, committee chairpeople and others.