NDP MLA David Eby posts all of his travel receipts online. He’s far from alone. It’s something B.C. MLAs are required to do. The rule, however, doesn’t seem to apply to cabinet ministers and the premier.
“MLA receipts are now available for any of us to look at. Unfortunately, it seems like they don’t include minister travel receipts, which now means we have another thing we have to work on,” Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said.
For some reason, cabinet ministers and the premier post a less-detailed list of travel expenses on another website.
“There is nothing posted proactively online about the premier’s private jets or any of her other travel for that matter,” freelance journalist Bob Mackin said. “Every month they put a dollar figure there. The dollar figure means nothing because they show nothing. It’s a lack of details and I think that’s on purpose.”
A Freedom of Information request by Mackin into the premier’s travel expenses revealed a lot of charter flights in the last five years, many to and from her constituency in Kelowna.
One flight for four people last April cost $3,800; another flight a month later cost $3,200. A quick search shows commercial flights between Vancouver and Kelowna for the same number of people cost about half that. However, premium economy for the 50-minute flight is comparable to a charter.
The latest statement posted on the Open Information website says Clark has spent less than $45,000 on travel expenses fiscal year-to-date.
The premier’s office sent Global News a breakdown of past premier travel expenses for comparison.
For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004, then-premier Gordon Campbell spent more than $100,000. For the fiscal year ending March 31, 1999, Glen Clark spent $111,000.
Finance Minister Mike de Jong says he welcomes more transparency.
“If you are expending public dollars, the public has a right to know what you are expending it on,” he said.
He admits it’s unfair that MLAs seem to be held to a higher level of accountability than cabinet ministers or the premier.
“Part of my objective is to release that stuff on a proactive basis,” he said.
De Jong says he hopes to have the executive posting detailed receipts online, just as MLAs do, in the next couple of months.
– With files from Randene Neill
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