Expense claims of MLAs to be fully disclosed under new bill

A bill before the legislature would require New Brunswicm MLAs to publicly post all their expense claims online.

Proposed law would require individual expense claims to be publicly available online

A bill before the legislature would require New Brunswick MLAs to publicly post all their expense claims online and indications are the requirement will be in place before summer.

The Progressive Conservative government says it will likely support the bill from the Liberal Opposition.

Last week it was revealed Campbellton-Restigouche MLA Greg Davis failed to pay the rent on his constituency office in Campbellton despite claiming the maximum amount of $40,000 a year for expenses.

Liberal Leader Brian Gallant introduced a bill last November that would make MLAs publicly disclose details of all expense claims. (CBC)
Liberal Leader Brian Gallant introduced his bill in November, months before a bailiff's notice for non-payment of rent was placed on the door of Davis's office.

The legislature is now reviewing what happened to the $40,000 Davis claimed for his Campbellton office expenses.

Gallant says the situation might have been avoided if the Conservative government had embraced his proposed bill earlier.

"It's amazing when you look at the last few months," said Gallant. "We proposed this legislation. I talked about this during the leadership as well, of the Liberal party."

Currently, all the public sees is the total amount of expenses claimed by MLAs, not the individual receipts. Only legislature staff get to review the breakdown of expenses.

The New Democrats and People's Alliance have also been supportive of more disclosure.

Speaker Dale Graham was cool to the idea on Tuesday.

"I think we're pretty public, maybe not on detail," said Graham.

But Deputy Premier Paul Robichaud said the Tories had planned to vote for Gallant's bill before the Davis scandal.

It's a way to increase transparency for MLA expenses and ensure taxpayers' money is being used for what it should be used.- Liberal Leader Brian Gallant

"We said publicly we will support Bill 14 in principle, before that situation," said Robichaud.

Robichaud says all it will take to pass the bill is a few minor changes.

Gallant says he's open to that.

"Let's be proactive about it and let's make sure we don't have to deal with something after the fact," said Gallant. "Let's be proactive, get this legislation passed.

"It's a way to increase transparency for MLA expenses and ensure taxpayers' money is being used for what it should be used."

The legislature is investigating Davis's expenses and will publicly release a report on Tuesday.



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