Montreal's politicians spent $200K on travel since November 2013

Elected officials in Montreal have spent $200,000 on travel expenses since November 2013, with Mayor Denis Coderre accounting for nearly half the total trips, new data released by the city and compiled by CBC News shows.

City’s elected leaders have taken 86 trips to 51 different cities worldwide over past 2 years

French President Francois Hollande, left, welcomes Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, right, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on Feb. 2, 2015. Coderre was on a three-days visit to France. (Michel Euler/The Associated Press)

Elected officials in Montreal have spent $200,000 on travel expenses since November 2013, new data released by the city and compiled by CBC News shows.

Mayor Denis Coderre has taken 40 different business trips — nearly half of the total — since he was elected to office.

Coderre has travelled as far as Japan, China, South Korea, Tunisia, Senegal, Argentina and France for conferences and trade missions since he was first elected.

Montreal politicians have travelled widely, with a total of 85 trips to five different continents.

Map: Where Montreal's mayor and councillors went over two years

Go here for the full interactive version of the map

Pierre Desrochers, the chairman of the executive committee, defended the expenses. He says outreach puts Montreal back on the map.

"You know it's not leisure trips — it's all business trips," said Desrochers. 

"It is either because we're part of an association or because we want to promote Montreal either regionally, nationally or internationally."

'Tip of the iceberg'

Guillaume Lavoie of Projet Montréal says that the data provided by the city doesn't include other expenses incurred during business trips, such as accommodations for staff who are not elected officials.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," said Lavoie.

Lavoie hopes to see more transparency and oversight, which he says is lacking at the executive committee level.

"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.

"And when it comes to the mayor it is probably even less acceptable that we lack transparency."

Coast to coast trips

Most politicians' trips are closer to home. Almost a third of all trips were within Quebec for intermunicipal and provincial meetings.

The single biggest destination was Quebec City, which was visited 15 times in those two years. Toronto was visited eight times, while Ottawa and Paris each received five visits.

The single largest expense came to a total of $13,600 from April 2015. 

Coderre, along with councillors Claude Dauphin, Michel Bissonnet, Maurice Cohen and Marie-Ève Brunet, went to Edmonton for the annual conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Trips to other parts of the world also carried a hefty price tag.

A four-day conference in Buenos Aires in May 2015, attended by Coderre and Desrochers, cost $9,558.

Coderre's recent trade mission to China, where he visited five cities, ran up a tab of $7,200.

with files from Ainslie Maclellan