Costly moves in Ottawa

This week, the House of Commons is back after the summer recess and it did not take long for the usual Ottawa dynamic to get back into full swing.

One of the major media stories is that the Prime Minister’s Office and various ministers have billed taxpayers over $1 million to move political staff to Ottawa.

While Government does sometimes cover these types of expenses, claims as high as $126,000 for an individual political staff member to move from Toronto to Ottawa have resulted in demands for more transparency on providing details.

On a local level, I have already heard several concerns from citizens who have reported to moving much farther distances for considerably smaller amounts of money.

Although some will argue $1 million may be a small amount of money as part of the overall Government budget, it is also important for taxpayers to have confidence that every dollar is spent wisely.

It difficult to comprehend how a move from Toronto to Ottawa can cost well over $100,000.

As opposition, this will be a subject that we will demand further information.

Another interesting subject relates to Canada`s climate change targets, more specifically known as targets for reducing industrial greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

Shortly after the 2015 Federal election our prime minister sent the largest Canadian delegation in history to attend the Paris climate change conference at a cost in excess of $1 million dollars to do so.

While at the Paris conference, the Liberal Government made several comments in support of increasing GHG reduction targets while criticizing the record of the former Conservative Government.

For this reason, many in Ottawa were surprised this week when the Liberal Government announced it would adopt the very same GHG reduction targets that were set by the previous Government under prime minister Stephen Harper. 

Yes, these would be the very same GHG reduction targets the Liberals had criticized when in opposition.

In 1993, former Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien promised to reduce our GHG emissions to 20 per cent below 1988 levels by 2005.

This promise was broken.

In 1997, Chretien signed the Kyoto accord to reduce our emissions by a smaller amount of six per cent below 1990 levels that would be achieved by 2012.

In 2006, when the Liberals were voted out of office, Canada was 30 per cent over that target and as a result, Harper eventually withdrew Canada from the Kyoto agreement that had set binding targets.

In 2009, at the Copenhagen climate conference, Harper matched the U.S. target to cut GHG emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 30 per cent by 2013 in what is a non-binding agreement.

These target levels are the same the Liberals will now use as they prepare to ratify the Paris climate conference agreement going forward, a move that has angered some in the environmental movement and in particular the Green Party and leader Elizabeth May.

Somewhat related to this announcement is news that the Liberal Government also intends to force a carbon tax onto the provinces.

It is important to also point out that no details are known and it should also be recognized that provinces such as B.C. already have a carbon tax so it remains unknown how such a federally imposed tax would impact British Columbia.

I will continue to provide information on the Liberal proposed carbon tax as the details become available.

If you have any comments, questions or concerns on this or any matter before the House of Commons, I can be reached at [email protected] or contacted toll-free at 1(800) 665-8711.


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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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