An Edmonton MLA is defending his travel expenses — the most of any of the city's MLAs — saying it's the cost of educating himself on the issues in the province.    

Edmonton-McClung MLA David Xiao's claimed travel expenses of nearly $35,000 last year, more than any of his Edmonton colleagues.

Most of the expenses involved driving to Calgary, he told CBC News.

"I believe I went to Calgary at least close to 20 times," he said. "People invite me. I feel I need to be there to learn about the issues — to get myself educated."

MLAs are entitled to 42 cents a kilometre for using their own car, compensation which may be overly generous, said Derek Fildebrandt with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

"When urban Edmonton MLAs like David Xiao are running up more in mileage costs than southern Alberta MLAs like Rob Anderson, clearly the system is probably too rich," he said.

Xiao said he doesn't believe his travel expenses will be as hefty this year as he doesn't plan to be on the road as much.