EDITORIAL: Spending habits details required

B.C. Finance Minister Michael de Jong took a trip to India last year, one that involved government business and personal time.

De Jong paid the personal-time portion of the trip’s cost — and he did so willingly and immediately, not after being caught spending public dollars. Other politicians would be wise to emulate de Jong the next time they jump on a plane on the taxpayers’ dime.

Liberal MLA Linda Reid and NDP MLAs Jenny Kwan and Raj Chouhan have all pledged to repay thousands of dollars they used in travel costs. Kwan’s trips to Disneyland and Europe were paid for by government funds given to the Portland Hotel, while Reid and Chouhan billed taxpayers so their spouses could travel with them to South Africa.

First of all, provincial politicians make more than enough money cover the cost of bringing their spouse with them on trips. An MLA’s base salary of $100,000-plus places them in the “wealthy” echelon. Secondly, these scandals remind us that MLAs should be posting online, for everyone to see, detailed receipts showing how they are spending our money.

De Jong said the scrutiny into Reid’s travel costs is warranted.

“Politicians have to ask themselves whether or not the money, the public dollars that they are spending, are being spent in a defensible manner,” the finance minister said. We agree.

We would add that politicians also have to demonstrate, via an unfettered process of presenting their spending habits, that public money is being spent wisely.

A good first step would be to simply post online every receipt of every public expenditure.

It’s done in Alberta. It can and should be done here.

How could any MLA of any stripe possible object to true transparency?

Kamloops This Week


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