WATCH: New details about the money retiring Lt.-Gen Andrew Leslie was compensated for moving just a few blocks away. Jacques Bourbeau explains the broken system, where money is readily handed out and few questions are asked.
OTTAWA – The Department of National Defence is extremely generous to retiring soldiers who use their last move to switch houses in the same city – even paying them personal mileage and per diems, new documents obtained by Global News show.
The documents provide details on the $72,000 taxpayers shelled out to move retiring Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie to a new house in Ottawa’s Rockcliffe neighbourhood last year, just 2.5 kilometres from his old one.
And they show just how generous this policy is.
Even though Leslie was moving just a short distance, he was given a personal mileage allowance. DND calculated he was entitled to a 14 kilometre mileage claim, to compensate for driving his vehicle from his old home to his new one.
At a rate of $0.55/km, that meant Leslie was given $7.70.
Leslie also received two days per diem, a total of $271.22 to cover the costs of meals, incidentals and lodging while he was moving to a new house in the same neighbourhood.
Leslie did not file for these claims. They were calculated by a company contracted by DND to handle the logistics of military moves and automatically given to the retired general. But Leslie did sign a “relocation expense claim” dated Oct. 1 2013, that clearly itemizes both the mileage allowance and the per diem payments.
Retired Col. Michel Drapeau says Leslie should not have accepted the two payments.
“Was he entitled to it? Yes. Did he exercise his entitlement? Yes. To the fullest,” Drapeau said.
“When somebody receives a high degree of entitlement, $72,000 to move a house, I think the public wouldn’t expect you to claim every possible little expenditure associated with that.”
The documents show that besides the mileage allowance and per diems, DND paid Leslie’s moving company legal fees, a home appraisal, house inspection and cleaning costs.
Global News contacted Leslie but he declined to comment.
DND’s retirement resettlement policy is designed to allow soldiers, who spend their career being posted around the country and sometimes around the world, to expense one final move when they retire so they can choose where they will live.
But the policy has come under fire after it was revealed that over the past five years, 13 generals billed taxpayers to switch houses in the same city. Leslie’s move was the most expensive.
Even Canada’s top military officials are not happy with this situation.
Gen. Tom Lawson, the chief of defence staff, wrote in an email: “The question is, while relocation to a desired locale seems supportable, what about the case of those who are already in the desired locale, but not their dream home.”
Lawson went on to question same-city moves, calling them “a bit rich for taxpayer blood.”
Leslie is now an advisor to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, and is hoping to run for the Liberals in the riding of Ottawa-Orleans. Leslie has said the Conservatives are trying to smear him, and he is the victim of “personal attacks.”
Defence Minister Rob Nicholson has ordered a review of the military’s moving policies. According to officials in Nicholson’s office, that review continues.