Montreal's travel expenses data lacks transparency, expert says

Elected officials in Montreal have spent $200,000 on travel expenses since November 2013, for a total of 85 trips, but not all figures are reported.

Elected officials spend $200,000 on travel expenses since November 2013

Mayor Denis Coderre met Pope Francis during a trip to the Vatican in February 2015. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

The City of Montreal's data on travel expenses should include more details, one expert says, even if the costs are reasonable and necessary.

Elected officials in Montreal have spent $200,000 on travel expenses since November 2013 on a total of 85 trips, according to information released by the city and compiled by CBC News. 

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre took 40 trips since being elected to office.

The data available on the city's website highlights the cost per trip for every elected official. 

But those figures don't include a breakdown of the trip's expenses or other expenses incurred, such as accommodations for staff who are not elected officials.

"I think the transparency could be slightly improved," said Michel Nadeau, the executive director of the Institute for Governance and Public Policy.

"I think we should provide information for each elected official."

Guillaume Lavoie of Projet Montréal also says the complete list of expenses should be made public.

"It shouldn't matter who travels, it should matter why we're travelling, who is paying for it and where did that money go," said Lavoie.

Necessary cost

Michel Nadeau says the city should consider providing more data on travel expenses, including a breakdown of the costs during each trip.
​Nadeau says travel is an important part of an elected official's job, especially if you are the mayor.

"It is part of your job to sell the city, to sell the Montreal environment, the Montreal flavour to Chinese investors, European investors," Nadeau said. 

"I think as an important city, Montreal should play in the international arena."

Nadeau says Montreal has managed to keep travel costs low.

"When I look at the policy, I should say that it's a very frugal policy," he said.

While travel costs came in at $200,000, the combined budgets for 2014 and 2015 amount to just under $10 billion.


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