Some expenses do seem hard to justify
Mr. John Doe might charge more than $18,000 in expense claims to the taxpayers of Prince Edward Island over a two-year period and escape scrutiny or complaint. But he is not the CEO of the P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission — it’s Brooke MacMillan. And the name immediately attracts attention because of his deep Liberal party connections, his past association with the infamous Provincial Nominee Program and more recently, with this LCC patronage appointment.
It’s understandable he would be a target for the Opposition and it’s certainly fair game for them to closely check his expense claims. At first blush, spending some $9,000 a year for travel, meals and other expenses at home and away may not seem excessive. But when you add in other expenses, the total amount is over $23,000 from 2011 to 2013 and it does raise some eyebrows, especially the large number of dinners at a city steakhouse.
Does the wining and dining have net benefits for the province? Yes, if the money is being spent efficiently and wisely. The CEO’s job at the commission is considered one of the plum positions in the province. It’s well paid and there is a fair bit of travel to somewhat exotic locales. Sales are usually robust so future employment is secure. It doesn’t hurt that breweries, wineries and liquor companies are your clients and they usually come calling.
P.E.I. has gained a well-earned reputation as a fine dining destination. It makes sense that a fine wine to accompany a good meal go hand in hand. Islanders, visitors and tourists are more selective and sophisticated in their tastes, and they expect good selection and service. The LCC has responded in recent years with better selections, modernization of stores and attractive displays.
Did you see the results of the 2012 Canadian Nature Survey this week? It contains interesting data on how Islanders use and understand nature. Fifteen per cent of Islanders indicated that they rely on nature for income and employment in fields such as farming — pun intended — fisheries, forestry and outdoor tourism. Fifty-six per cent chose where they live, partly, to have access to forest and ocean. Many Islanders participate in outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing. Over 95 per cent of Islanders know that nature is essential to clean pollutants from the air, filter water to keep it clean and safe, provide places for recreation, keep soil fertile and productive, and pollinate plants and crops. It’s little wonder we receive so many letters on deep-water wells, pesticides and land use.
And now we have Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and P.E.I. NDP Leader Michael Redmond singing from the same song sheet again. The two have similar views on abortion and this week they re-united on the theme that more transparency means better government. Mr. Trudeau has written a private member’s bill calling for amendments to the Access to Information Act to force government to be more open. Mr. Redmond was reacting to last week’s report from Newspapers Canada that gave P.E.I. a D in the extent of information made available under freedom of information. Maybe the two gentlemen should get together at some point and chat.
Did you blink and miss Spring? We are approaching the key period for summer holidays with Father’s Day weekend upon us. Arriving by email this week was “10 Email Tips for Working Vacations” or “How to Spend Less Time in your Inbox and More Time in the Pool.” More and more working people have to stay connected to work by email while on vacation. So how do we deal with this email problem? This week’s suggestion boils it down to radically reducing the time it takes to deal with emails. It offers 10 tips to reduce email use. By the time you master these 10 tips, your hard-earned vacation may be over. But it’s the thought that counts.