Liberals find posting MP expenses an onerous task
Leader Justin Trudeau promised to post expenses of his MPs quarterly, but that's proving difficult
As Justin Trudeau trumpets his party's plans for a more open, transparent government, Liberal MPs still haven't posted their most recent expenses online.
On Wednesday, Trudeau pointed to his party's pledge to voluntarily post travel and hospitality expenses online as evidence of his party's commitment to openness and transparency. He made the comments while announcing he would table a private member's bill in the House of Commons aimed at improving the Access to Information process by making public information "open by default."
But the party says it's struggling with the work involved in putting those MP expenses online.
"In my view, it’s as timely as we can make it with the limited resources we have," said Liberal House leader Dominic Leblanc
"The important thing is these numbers come out. They’re coming out this week. The delay is nothing other than simply a workload issue. There’s no mystery to it. It’s quite straightforward."
The Liberals never said how quickly expenses would be posted online. However, the last round of expenses posted, for the final quarter of 2013 were made public a month and half after the quarter ended. In this case, nearly 2½ months have passed and the expenses still aren't posted.
"I don’t think anybody should read anything other than simply trying to process an awful lot of travel and hospitality claims in an appropriate way and ensure that it is very accurate," added Leblanc.
He said there's no awkwardness in Trudeau touting his party's record on expenses, despite not having the most recent expenses posted.
"I don’t think so at all. I mean he’s introduced a private member’s bill to raise the level of transparency. If we’ve been working at the Board of Internal Economy and the Procedure and House Affairs Committee to ensure that some abusive spending practices of other parties are in fact corrected and reimbursements are extracted, I see no contradiction whatsoever in that."
The Liberals say this is the second-to-last time the party will be responsible for posting MP expenses. As of July 1, Leblanc said the House of Commons will take over responsibility for posting expenses for all MPs.
"I’ll remind you that we led the way on the whole issue of proactive disclosure. We were the first party to start doing it. The others have followed," he said.