MPs defend keeping expenses closed to auditor

Members of Parliament defend their decision to deny Auditor General Sheila Fraser's request to examine their expenses.

Members of Parliament defended their decision to deny Auditor General Sheila Fraser's request to examine their expenses

"I think it's really important that the public understand that we have very strict rules and procedures in place," said MP Libby Davies, a New Democrat and member of the Board of Internal Economy, which rejected Fraser's request.

"No expenses get approved that have not been vetted duly through two processes," Conservative MP Rick Dykstra said.

The expenses are audited by the accounting firm KPMG but the report is never made public.

Fraser asked last June if her office could conduct a "performance audit" on $533 million of annual spending by both the House of Commons and Senate.

But on Thursday, Parliament's all-party Board of Internal Economy issued a news release stating the proposed audit "would go beyond the scope of the auditor general's mandate."

The board said there are already sufficient "control mechanisms" in place.

"She is an employee of the house," Liberal MP Scott Andrews said. "We appoint her. So why would she audit the people who appoint her?"

On Friday, Fraser issued a statement saying the "Auditor General is the auditor of the accounts of Canada," which "include amounts received and expended by the House of Commons."

Because of the auditor's "distinct relationship" with the House of Commons, "we have adopted the practice of requesting an invitation before commencing an audit," she said.

MP Joe Comartin of the NDP said this type of examination should not be done by a public servant.

"It's the electorate who makes those decisions as to whether we spend our money properly," he said.

MPs have said they are considering making public the KPMG audit.

With files from The Canadian Press