There is an uproar on Parliament Hill about transparency. It’s not the Afghan detainee scandal: it’s a screaming match about MP’s expenses.
Almost no MPs want their expenses to be transparent, but all parties want to appear transparent. The Conservatives are calling for more debate about MP’s expenditures, but won’t release the actual data. The Liberals this week released their member’s expenses to show the Conservatives up—never mind that the data are exactly the same as were released in the annual House of Commons report—and exactly as paltry.
According to the report, Alan Tonks’ office costs taxpayers about $575,000 a year. His office expenditures are $423,035, and the base salary for an MP is $155,400.
Tonks’ expenses do not compare favourably with his colleagues. The Prime Minister’s expenses are only 60% of Tonks’. Stephane Dion’s expenses are 20% less.
Tonks’ leader, Michael Ignatieff, spends only 13% more than Tonks does, as does Gilles Duceppe, the BQ leader. Jack Layton spends 30% more.
Constituents and taxpayers should be concerned with the expenses of a back-bench MP who spends like a leader. Unfortunately, until MPs reveal more detail, we won’t know whether Tonks’ expenditures were justified. His secrecy does not lend confidence.
Other Liberal MPs have released their expenses. Tonks should do the same. He has little to lose and much to gain.
My data, in OpenOffice format: Tonks’ expenses