Tories odd man out as Liberals, NDP support audit of MPs’ expenses

Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau threw their support Wednesday behind inviting the auditor general to put MPs’ expenses under the microscope.

OTTAWA — Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau threw their support Wednesday behind inviting the auditor general to put MPs’ expenses under the microscope.

That left the governing Conservatives as the odd man out among the main federal parties.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s parliamentary secretary, Paul Calandra, said he doesn’t support the idea.

He noted that auditor general Michael Ferguson himself has said the House of Commons can learn from his comprehensive audit of the Senate, without subjecting MPs to the same kind of individual scrutiny given to senators.

“I certainly wouldn’t support that. I think the auditor general made very clear comments that it wasn’t required,” Calandra said.

By contrast, NDP Leader Mulcair said: “We have already proposed it, the other parties voted against it.”

Mulcair appeared to be referring to an obscure dissenting committee report his party wrote two years ago, in which it backed giving the auditor general a clear legislative mandate to audit spending in the House of Commons, including MPs’ expenses.

The NDP has also proposed replacing the secretive board of internal economy, which polices Commons spending, with an independent oversight body which would operate primarily in public.

“The NDP has every intention of getting rid of the secretive board of internal economy,” Mulcair said. “Every penny being spent there is public money and the public has a right to see how every penny is spent.”

Trudeau, the Liberal leader, said it’s “high time” Ferguson looked at the House of Commons.

“House leadership needs to sit down with the auditor general and figure out a way for him to engage,” Trudeau said.

“It is time that we actually establish a process whereby we can restore Canadians’ confidence and that means asking the auditor general to come in.”

Ferguson’s scathing report on Senate expenses, tabled Tuesday, found 30 current and former senators improperly spent almost $1 million, nine of them so egregiously that their cases have been referred to the RCMP.

The Commons can and should learn from his recommendations that the Senate needs greater transparency and independent oversight of expenses, Ferguson said.

The damning details of misspending uncovered in the Senate is putting pressure on MPs to subject themselves to the same scrutiny as senators.

Trudeau stopped short of calling for a forensic audit of the Commons, but he said some steps need to be taken to restore the confidence of Canadians.

Over the past five years, more than twice as many MPs have been accused of improperly spending more than four times the amount Ferguson concluded was misspent by some 30 senators.

MP spending is policed by the board of internal economy, a secretive group of four Conservatives, two New Democrats and one Liberal, who meet behind closed doors and typically issue only cursory summaries of their decisions.

The NDP has been railing against the board, which it calls a “kangaroo court,” since it ordered dozens of New Democrat MPs to repay almost $4 million for allegedly improperly using parliamentary resources for partisan purposes.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

The RDC Queens picked up an extra special victory on home ice… Continue reading

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

‘Stupid’ law preventing Canada’s re-engagement with Iran: retired envoy

OTTAWA — The real reason the Liberal government hasn’t been able to… Continue reading

Voters head to polls for BC municipal elections today

VANCOUVER — Voters in British Columbia will head to the polls today… Continue reading

All sharks tagged in N.S. expedition can now be tracked on Ocearch website

HALIFAX — All six of the sharks tagged in Nova Scotian waters… Continue reading

Memorial service for former PQ minister Lise Payette today in Montreal

MONTREAL — Mourners will gather to remember former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister… Continue reading

Immunotherapy scores a first win against some breast cancers

For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown… Continue reading

‘Mom I’m in trouble:’ Canadian, Brit face 10 years in jail for alleged graffiti

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — The mother of a Canadian who was arrested… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Most Read