This week I would like to submit my annual accountability report. It was my intention to do this earlier in the year however it was only late last week that the Board of Internal Economy tabled the audited individual members’ expenditure reports. The following information is for the period from April 1st of 2011 up to March 31st of 2012 in accordance with the Board of Internal Economy reporting periods. Although much of this information is publicly available, it is often difficult to find and may exist within several different areas of government. I believe it is important for citizens to have an annual summary on the activities of elected officials in public office and the following information is based on the most common requests that I receive from constituents.
Without question, spending and travel are typically the most scrutinized areas. In the context of a Member 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 for the time frame was just over $49,000 – in my case this represents roughly 400 hours in an airplane and I would estimate close 98% 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 as a Member of Parliament. Total spending for both my offices here in Okanagan-Coquihalla and in Ottawa including all staff, leases, advertising and travel was $316,625. 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 $516,131 as a comparison.
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 provider and not taxpayers. When Members of Parliament accept these invitations they are required to disclose and report such trips to The Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. I can confirm that I did not accept any complimentary trips or travel since being elected.
House Attendance: At some point over the years you may have heard about MP’s who rarely venture into the House of Commons while they are in Ottawa unless votes are occurring. From my perspective I try to be in the House of Commons for a portion of each day the House is sitting. During my first year as an MP, there were only three sitting days that I was not in attendance for votes in the House of Commons. In each of these circumstances I was asked to represent the government at an announcement here in Okanagan-Coquihalla. When not in the House of Commons, I am most often in one of the two Parliamentary Committees I sit on or another Parliamentary Committee covering for an MP who may have a scheduling conflict. In total I attended over 915 different events between Ottawa and Okanagan Coquihalla, that included nearly 300 different meetings and roughly 130 community events with the remainder being other Parliamentary or constituency related functions. Not included are unscheduled events or daily phone calls.
The above information is intended to provide a brief summary of the most commonly asked questions regarding my activities for the first year as a Member of Parliament working on your behalf in Ottawa. If there is other information that you are interested in, please do not hesitate to contact me with your request. Likewise if this annual accountability disclosure is not of interest to you, please let me know otherwise I will look to post a similar report this time next year.