Wednesday, March 5, 2014

New session of the Legislature, old questions on spending

As we outlined on the blog in February, the British Columbia Legislature has resumed its sessions, with two weeks of Legislative work now under their belts and week number three just under way.

With their return to work, attention is returning once again to the nature of spending by MLA's of all parties in the BC Legislature.

A theme that many of the major media organizations that cover politics have weighed in on in recent years.

For this session, the Vancouver Sun appears to be taking the lead in seeking to learn more about the ways that MLA's are spending public dollars while in Victoria.

A number of items of interest on the theme have appeared in the Sun over the last two days.

The first was a review by Sun journalist Rob Shaw who outlined the numbers when it comes to MLA spending, with a listing of the top ten travel tabs at the Legislature from April to September of 2013 (North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice makes that list at number 7).

Some B. C. MLAs spent $30,000 on travel over the past six months

He follows that item with two articles on spending by the Speaker of the House, providing for some eye opening purchases on the provincial accounts.

A rare, and uncomfortable, moment in the limelight for legislature Speaker Linda Reid
Legislature speaker Linda Reid spends on perks during time of austerity

The CBC's BC Almanac addressed the topic on Tuesday, with a lengthy review and discussion on the theme of spending by MLA and started the review with an interview with the Sun's Shaw. (listen here via the BC Almanac audio stream)

Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer reviews the latest of flaps, that of the spending of the Speaker of the Legislature Linda Reid. Offering a fairly thorough examination of the fallout in Victoria of the work done by Rob Shaw.

Offering up his own thoughts, on the string of purchases in what most see as excessive spending. All of it taking place in an era of purported austerity.

Let them eat ... muffins? Speaker's spending sends curious message

In Palmer's column he offers up an interesting quote from the Finance Minister Mike de Jong, who proclaimed that the "public is justified, in my view, to scrutinize every single tax dollar that is spent."

A noble sentiment, but apparently not one at the moment shared by the Liberals, who seem to hold spending receipts as long as they can and don't provide for much in the way of access to those figures.

As we've pointed on on the blog in the past, that to their credit, the NDP do maintain a useful data base of spending by NDP MLA's, complete with archival information for month to month review.

The listings for all NDP MLA's can be found here, those looking for the spending reports from North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice can find them here.

It's a very simple program, one which the Liberals should adopt to provide at least some cursory transparency on MLA spending in Victoria.

You can keep track of more developments from the Legislature in Victoria, by way of our Legislature Archive page.

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