July 27, 2018 7:24 am
Updated: July 27, 2018 7:26 am

Danielle Smith: NDP MLA claims she drives 80,000 km a year? Prove it

NDP MLA Jessica Littlewood, who represents the Edmonton-area constituency of Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, says she drove 80,000 km last year.

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I’ve got one thing to say to NDP MLA Jessica Littlewood, who represents the Edmonton-area constituency of Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville: prove it.

Prove to your constituents and to taxpayers that you really are driving 80,000 kilometres a year.

“It’s lots of trips out to Vegreville and Lamont and Andrew, so it’s a lot of meetings with municipalities, [agricultural] societies and events,” she said. “I would expect that other MLAs in rural constituencies would be driving similar amounts.” She says she drives around her constituency multiple times a week.

Well, let’s just fact check that, shall we?

If Littlewood was driving 80,000 km a year, that would mean she would be driving 210 km for 365 days of the year. To accomplish that, she would have to drive that Fort Saskatchewan-Lamont-Andrew-Vegreville-Fort Saskatchewan route — about 224 km — every single day, not just “multiple times a week.”

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Of course, there are 12 weeks in the year where she has to be in Edmonton for the legislature. A return trip from Fort Saskatchewan to Edmonton is 74 km. So on Edmonton days, she’d be making three round trips to rack up her daily 210 km mileage. She leaves in the dust all other MLAs, including former interim leader of the UCP Nathan Cooper and Medicine Hat MLA and Energy Critic Drew Barnes, who are around the 50,000 km annual mark.

Yes, rural MLAs drive a lot. But a rural MLA who claims to be driving 60 per cent more than any other rural MLA has some explaining to do.

Prior to her election, Littlewood was an executive assistant with the accounting firm Ernst and Young. So she should know a thing or two about the accountability the Canada Revenue Agency requires of private sector employees when they claim mileage.

LISTEN NOW: DANIELLE SMITH TELLS NDP MLA TO PROVE HER 80,000 KM A Year

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Where is the daily log book showing her extensive driving to all these meetings? With such a busy meeting schedule, it should be easy enough to reconstruct from her calendar.

We all have GPS tracking on our phones and multiple apps that can be downloaded to make the job of tracking mileage easy. Perhaps her travels could be reconstructed that way.

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Failing that, she could produce her oil change receipts. With this amount of driving, she should be getting eight to 15 oil changes a year. The handy thing about the way oil change shops work is that they record your mileage on each visit.

Why does it matter? MLAs claim 43.5 cents a kilometre for mileage. That calculates to $34,800 a year, enough to give her enough money to replace her car every year or simply pocket the amount as extra income.

The 80,000 km amount is the maximum an MLA can claim. This looks suspiciously like Littlewood is just claiming the maximum, knowing the program operates on an honour system and she’ll never have to prove it.

I’m asking her to prove it. So should you. Send her an email at fortsaskatchewan.vegreville@assembly.ab.ca.

Danielle Smith is host of The Danielle Smith Show on Global News Radio 770 Calgary. She can be reached at danielle@770chqr.com.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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