As mentioned in a recent MP report, as a result of the positive feedback I received from last year`s accountability report this will now become an annual report that I will submit to the citizens of Okanagan-Coquihalla.
I will also follow the format used last year including information from the period of April 1, 2012 up to March 31, 2013 in accordance with the Board of Internal Economy reporting periods.
While some of this information is publicly available, it can be difficult to find and often exists at several different locations online or not at all.
As stated last year, I believe it is important for citizens to have an annual summary on the activities of elected officials in public office including the related costs.
Office expenses and travel are typically the most scrutinized areas of spending for elected officials at any level of government.
For Members of Parliament from British Columbia, our travel expenses are higher than those of MP’s from other areas in Canada as a result of the fact that we fly the farthest distances between B.C. and Ottawa.
My personal travel expense during this time frame was just under $55,000 – in my case this works out to roughly 420 hours in an airplane and I would estimate over 95 per cent was regular coach class – I didn’t fly first class before being elected as an MP and I continue to make every effort to fly economy class where possible as an MP.
Total spending for my offices here in Okanagan-Coquihalla and in Ottawa including all staff, leases, advertising and the above mentioned travel was $394,289.
This amount is within the top 10 lowest expenses for a BC based MP. Currently the average total spending of an MP in British Columbia is roughly $ 445,000. Closer to home NDP MP Alex Atamanenko from B.C. Southern Interior has posted spending of 493,616 as a comparison.
The highest spending B.C.-based in MP is Liberal Hedy Fry at $516,429.
Sponsored travel falls into a different category as Members of Parliament are invited from time to time to travel to other destinations both within and outside of Canada for a variety of different reasons.
These invitations often include airfare and accommodations being paid for by the Host and not taxpayers.
When Members of Parliament accept these special trips they are required to disclose and report such travel to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.
I can confirm that while I did receive invitations of this nature I did not accept any complimentary trips or travel nor have I since being elected.
One other category of spending is spousal travel.
The Board of Internal Economy allows for MPs to fly a spouse between Ottawa and a member’s home riding. Post Media is credited with doing an analysis on these benefits and in turn also reported on them with a list ranking all MPs.
The highest spending MP for spousal travel was now former Toronto-Centre Liberal MP Bob Rae at just under $57,000.
My ranking on this list was 198 with spending of $900.45.
In terms of meetings and other community events (not including my regular duties in the House of Commons) this past year I attended or participated in over 400 — a similar number to the previous year.
This does not include unscheduled events or daily phones calls that also occur throughout the year.
Some good news to pass on is that the Board of Internal Economy has been implementing new or revised rules that in my view will help to keep expenses in check across the board.
The information included in this week’s report is intended to provide a brief summary of some of the more commonly scrutinized expenses. If there is other information that you are interested in, please do not hesitate to contact me with your request.
I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 1-800-665-8711.
Dan Albas is the MP for Okanagan Coquihalla.