North

David Ramsay, N.W.T. minister, won't have to pay back luxury hotel bill

David Ramsay will not have to repay $757 for a luxury hotel stay in Quebec, but the incident has triggered a more rigorous review process of all government minister and deputy minister travel claims, according to the N.W.T. finance department.

Ramsay ordered to pay back $192.97 in ineligible expenses for luxury sedan, taxi fare, per diems

David Ramsay will not have to pay back the cost of staying at a luxury hotel in Montebello, Que., for a wedding between business trips, but was ordered to repay $192.97 that went toward a luxury car rental and taxi fare. (Curtis Mandeville/CBC)

A review by the N.W.T.'s comptroller general has determined that minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, David Ramsay, will not have to pay back the $757.77 he claimed for a two-night stay at a luxury hotel in Montebello, Que.

The details were first reported in News/North on Aug. 10. 

Ramsay stayed at the Fairmont le Chateau Montebello in February between business trips to Ottawa and Toronto, attending the wedding of a mining executive. He told News/North that the weekend was a more economical use of his time than flying back to Yellowknife between trips, and also allowed him to meet with key figures in the resource industry. 

N.W.T. Premier Bob McLeod also attended the wedding, but did not file an expense claim, according to News/North

"According to the travel policy this is eligible for reimbursement, if, quote, it was not cost effective to return between work meetings," said Bill Merklinger, the N.W.T.'s comptroller general. "I don't have any evidence that the claim was not submitted in good faith."

However, Merklinger did find some issues with Ramsay's claim. Ramsay rented a luxury car — an Audi A4 sedan — while in Montebello. He also submitted claims for a taxi while using a rental car, which is against the territory's rules for expense claims, and claimed two ineligible per diems.

One of those per diems was for a meal while at the wedding, while another was for a meal while on a flight. 

Those ineligible expenses totalled $192.97, which Ramsay has repaid.

Department to conduct 'rigorous review' of travel claims

The N.W.T.'s Department of Finance also announced that they will be conducting a "more rigorous review of all deputy minister and ministerial travel claims, to ensure any ineligible claims... are identified and removed prior to final processing and reimbursement."

Ministerial travel reports are regularly made available to the public on the Government of the Northwest Territories' website.

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