MP provides full disclosure of expenses
Liberal backbencher Michelle Simson recently posted in detail her office budget and expenses on her website, making her the first federal MP to do so.
"First and foremost it's my budget; it's not my money. It's the taxpayers' money, so I wanted them to be able to understand how it was spent," said the former vice-president of a leasing firm who was elected to Parliament in October 2008 and represents Scarborough Southwest.
In fiscal 2008-09, federal MPs claimed $125 million in expenses but the details are never made public despite a request to do so from the auditor general.
Simson said she spent $95,619.54 on staff salaries, travel expenses, office expenses, advertising and miscellaneous items, and provided a breakdown of that figure.
But other politicians say it's not necessary to discuss the subject.
"Our budgets are audited," said Liberal MP Marlene Jennings. "There's an independent external audit that is done."
The Commons uses the private accounting firm KPMG to conduct annual audits of its statements.
Last May, Auditor General Sheila Fraser said she wanted to conduct a "performance audit" to ensure taxpayers are receiving value for their money.
Spending scandals have rocked governments in Canada and abroad.
In February, Nova Scotia's auditor general concluded inappropriate claims were made by some politicians for personal items, including almost $8,000 spent on a generator that was installed in a politician's home.
Reports by Newfoundland and Labrador's auditor general led to criminal charges against a former legislature employee and four former politicians who received sentences ranging from 15 months to two years.
In Britain, dozens of MPs were caught billing taxpayers for everything from cleaning a moat around an estate to building a house for ducks.
But some federal MPs said such things are unlikely to happen on Parliament Hill.
"[If] people suggest for a moment that there's somehow misuse of the taxpayers' money in this House by my colleagues, I'd be very, very shocked," Liberal MP Keith Martin said.
MPs charged with watching over Parliament spending have been considering Fraser's request for the past 10 months.