Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, who has lashed out against public-sector CEOs for nickel-and-diming the province through their expense accounts, has herself become a target for her own expense claims.
On Saturday, a Liberal press release blasted Horwath for a host of expenses, including a 25-cent parking charge.
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Freedom of Information documents obtained by the Liberals show that Horwath has “expensed muffins, coffee, taxi trips, calamari, lunches, dinners, parking and room service, and more to Ontario taxpayers.”
It says that Horwath has been submitting claims for small items while imploring politicians to “pinch your pennies” while thinking of taxpayers who are “watching their nickels and dimes.”
“The very least that we should be doing is making sure we’re undertaking that same exercise here at Queen’s Park,” Horwath said at a May 14 news conference.
Horwath has repeatedly slammed heads of major public agencies for billing to their expense accounts small items while collecting large salaries. She has pointed out that these executives are making claims for things such as coffee and muffins.
'If I wasn’t travelling around the province and I could be at home baking my own muffins, I would do that.' - Andrea Horwath
The Liberal release points out that Horwath's food claims include trips to Tim Hortons for coffee and muffins.
The Liberals say that documents covering a three-year period show that Horwath has claimed for personal meals and parking at least 236 times, including:
- 177 food claims
- 20 parking expenses under $3, including one for 25 cents
- 15 claims for room service
While Horwath’s expenses are posted online — broken down as meals, car rentals, flights and other — by the Ontario NDP caucus website, the Freedom of Information documents show actual receipts.
Horwath spent some of Saturday morning defending her expenses.
“I try and keep my expenses as low as possible and before I submit them, I pass them through the integrity commissioner,” she said.
“If I wasn’t travelling around the province and I could be at home baking my own muffins, I would do that…Having said that, we still have situations where CEOs in public positions are expensing speedboats. We saw that with ORNGE air ambulance and I think we need to make the rules clear.”