A graph of expenses for Island MPs
P.E.I.’s four MPs expensed more than $1.6 million last year, according to the latest report from Parliament’s Board of Internal Economy.
Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay was at the top of the list with more than $448,000 in spending from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013.
That included $134,184.91 in travel expenses for himself and others, which was the most of all four Island MPs, followed by Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, who expensed $72,171.64 in travel.
Malpeque MP Wayne Easter expensed $91,810.75 in travel and Charlottetown MP Sean Casey spent $50,800.47.
In response to the latest report, Easter said people tend to worry about MPs’ smaller expenses, like the costs of meals, which sometimes distracts from wasteful spending by the government as a whole.
“Instead of paying attention to where the real expenditures are, people tend to zero in on the cost of a meal,” he said.
That doesn’t mean he thinks MPs’ expenses shouldn’t be available to the public, but he said it’s important to keep individual members and the government as a whole accountable.
“You don’t want to drill down on one and forget about the other,” he said.
The Board of Internal Economy released the expense reports for all of Canada’s MPs this week, which showed they spent a combined $123.7 million, including more than $26 million for travel. Included in the reports are each MP’s office budget and total claims for such things as travel, hospitality and events, advertising and printing.
In total, MacAulay expensed $447,689.15, followed by Easter with $408,591.70, Shea with $379,284.18 and Casey who had the lowest of the four with $366,347.22 expensed.
Shea’s expenses don’t include business that would fall under the fisheries portfolio and are listed separately.
Among the Island MPs, MacAulay also led the way in spending on advertising with $27,612.75 expensed last year, followed by Shea who claimed $21,590.44.
Casey spent $6,533.37 on advertising and Easter expensed $4,181.51.
What isn’t included in the expense reports is a detailed breakdown of each expense and although the Board of Internal Economy reviews the claims, taxpayers can’t see the finer details when it comes to how the money is spent. That’s something the Liberals will soon be doing online with plans to start posting expenses online later this month.
Easter said even with the limited information available to the public through the Board of Internal Economy, there is enough accountability because every submission is carefully checked.
“I don’t think the public realizes how many checks and balances there is in the system, at least on the House of Commons side,” he said.
Although every MP expenses different amounts, Easter said it’s hard to compare them because every member has different responsibilities, such as critics who travel more and cabinet ministers whose departments cover some expenses.
“You can’t get an even comparison,” he said.
When it came to Shea and her advertising expenses, she said in a statement that communicating with constituents is a priority for her as an MP.
“I find important to share valuable information with the people I represent on new government programs and services or tax credits, for example.”
Attempts were made to reach the other two MPs, but Casey was out of the country and MacAulay was travelling back to P.E.I. from Ottawa.