If the current amount of abuse of our money wasn’t enough, this government's baggage is about to get heavier. They say there is no money for pensions. They say there is no money for things that Canadians desire and need, but there is plenty of cash floating around for their perks.
A recent CTV investigation emptied the parking lot at Parliament Hill, angered drivers and sent Conservative MPs into the defensive. MPs were charging Canadians overtime for unnecessary luxury drivers for every trip they decided to make – even the ones that could have been done through walking.
The investigation revealed that the average ministerial driver was paid a salary of $46,883 to $50,755, plus an average of $20,000 in overtime. All 26 ministers and 11 junior ministers used and abused this service. The total overtab came to $600,000 on the taxpayers’ tab. Each chauffer racked up hundreds of overtime hours between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011.
Among the most expensive customers were Public Works and Government Services Minister Rona Ambrose, who billed the government $40,074 for over 1,000 overtime hours. Current treasury board minister, and then industry minister Tony Clement had his driver kept on standby for a year and the government was billed accordingly. (You can see the table at the end of this article for a per MP basis)
NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus charged at the Conservatives asking, "How do the Conservatives have the nerve to tell Canadians that the cupboard is bare while ministers on the front-benches are stuffing themselves on perks and entitlements?"
"For crying out loud, even Batman drives his own car," Angus said. "All were asking is for them to show a little respect for the taxpayer once in a while."
Clement defended the costly perks claiming that MPs and their chauffers work hard.
"Our ministers are working long hours for the economy, long hours for jobs, long hours for the people of Canada, and sometimes that means a bit of overtime by the drivers," Clement said.
Acknowledging his mistake, Clement said that the government would look to reexamine the use of drivers.
"What we are doing is looking at the picture of drivers and their cars and making sure that we can have a reasonable approach to this," Clement said.
Clement and Ambrose weren’t the only ones cashing in. If the luxury hotel wasn’t enough for International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda, she tabbed Canadians for limozine costs as well. The limo service cost $1,000 per day and Oda has since repayed this sum.
Liberal ethics critic Scott Adams noted the day after the news broke that the parkinglot which was filled with chauffers, cashing in on taxpayers’ expense, was bare.
"We noticed today they're all hiding out around back," Adams said. "They're afraid to roll into Parliament in their black little limos today."
Adams charged that the second largest cabinet in Canadian history containing 37 members could have the decensy to to share cars and drivers and even use the free parliamentary buses that are available – or walk.
"They're telling everyone else to tighten their belts but they're living high on the hog," Andrews said. "They believe this is what they're entitled to and they're not willing to even cut back on some of their own perks."
So Tony Clement says that the drivers are necessary to rebuilding the economy. What do you think, should MPs be allowed to keep their perks – the ones they were ashamed of showing off once they got caught by the imfamous “Liberal media”?
If one thing is for sure, if the next government has a moral conscience and if the next government has any decensy, MP perks and benefits will be abolished and salaries and pensions re-examined. The days of entitlement are over.
Drivers’ Overime Hours Per MP
MP Overtime Converted Cost Meal cost Rona Ambrose 1,028 1,596.5 $38,383.95 $1,690 Diane Finley 951.5 1,498.5 $36,027.78 $1,750 Jim Flaherty 847.5 1,271.25 $34,941.14 Tony Clement 6,548 818.5 $19,678.84 Gery Ritz 743.5 1157 $27,817.27 $1,110 Jason Kenney 710.75 1124.125 $26,702.82 $1,040 Rob Merrifield 704.5 1085.25 $26,092.19 Lawrence Cannon 695 1071 $25,749.59 $1,340 Denis Lebel 668.5 1041.75 $25,046.34 Keith Ashfield 607 910.5 $21,890.75 Lisa Raitt 597.5 933.63 $22,446.86 $920 Bev Oda 596 894 $21,494.05 $1,340 Lynne Yelich 536 840.75 $20,213.79 Gail Shea 497 759 $18,248.31 $850 Diane Ablonczy 484.5 758.75 $18,242.30 $740 Chuck Strahl 481 756.5 $18,543.74 $220 John Duncan 474.75 828.125 $21,175.16 $1,127 Peter Kent* (incomplete) 471.5 716.25 $17,220.49 $750 James Moore 453 707.75 $17,016.12 $490 Peter Van Loan 436.5 664.75 $15,982.29 $710 Christian Paradis 433.75 659.125 $15,847.06 Leona Aglukkaq 432 648 $15,579.58 Rob Nicholson 408.5 631 $15,170.86 $280 John Baird** (incomplete) 403.5 615 $14,786.18 Gary Goodyear 305 468.5 $11,263.94 $530 Ted Menzies 248 372 $10,345.02 Stockwell Day*** (incomplete) 167 250.5 $6,022.86 Rob Moore 147.5 221.25 $5,319.41 $270 Jean-Pierre Blackburn Exempt Exempt Exempt Exempt Peter Mackay Exempt Exempt Exempt Exempt Julian Fantino Exempt Exempt Exempt Exempt Gary Lunn**** Exempt Exempt Exempt Exempt
*Environment Canada refuses to release Peter Kent’s full records and as such his analysis starts January 4, 2011
** PMO refuses to release John Baird’s full data and as such it starts Auguest 6, 2010.
***Treasury Board of Canada secretariat could only proide data from April 2010 to Auguest 2010
****Gary Lunn opted out of the driver program and didn’t have a driver.
Ministers of Departments that refuse to give any data:
- Jim Prentice (Then-Environment Minister)
- Marjory Lebreton (Leader of Government in Senate)
- Jay hill and John Baird (Leader of Government in House)
- Gordon O’Conner (Minister of State and Chief Government Whip)
- Josee Verner (Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of Queens Privy Council of Canada, Minister for La Francophonie
- Steven Fletcher (Minister of Democratic Reform)
- Vic Toews (Minister of Public Safety)
Source: CTV News.