Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Oda a Top Spender, but Ritz Has Biggest Tab for Trips and Hospitality: Oda a Top Spender, but Ritz Has Biggest Tab

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Oda a Top Spender, but Ritz Has Biggest Tab for Trips and Hospitality: Oda a Top Spender, but Ritz Has Biggest Tab

Article excerpt

OTTAWA - Bev Oda may be in hot water for her champagne tastes, but by no means is she the highest-spending member of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet.

That distinction goes to Gerry Ritz. The agriculture minister has racked up the biggest travel and hospitality tab of any of his Conservative colleagues in recent years, largely because of trade missions that have taken him all over the globe.

It has cost $271,489 since March 2010 to send Ritz to such far-flung destinations as Italy, Turkey, Indonesia and Japan. He just edged out Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to claim the top spot.

In a sign that the Tories may be circling the wagons over expenses, two spokeswomen defended their minister's spending with boiler-plate responses, identical right down to the misspelling of the word "utmost."

"Our government treats taxpayers' money with the upmost (sic) respect and we require that travel on government business be done at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers," Ritz's spokeswoman, Meagan Murdoch, wrote in an email.

"Canadian agriculture exports hit record levels last year at $44 billion and the agriculture and agri-food industry provides one in eight jobs. This is due, in part, to Agriculture Minister Ritz's steadfast commitment to help farmers earn their money from the marketplace, not the mailbox."

Travel and hospitality costs for Flaherty, who also regularly travels abroad for meetings, came to $270,119.

His spokeswoman, Mary Ann Dewey-Plante echoed her colleague on spending rules:

"Our government treats taxpayers' money with the upmost (sic) respect and we require that travel on government business be done at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers."

Defence Minister Peter MacKay rounded out the Top 3 with expenses of $265,286. Like Flaherty, MacKay's job frequently takes him to international conferences as well as hot spots where Canadian troops are deployed.

"This minister has overseen Canadian Forces actions in Afghanistan, Libya and Haiti, demonstrated Canada's leadership in the world at NATO meetings and other major international conferences, and made it a priority to be in the field with the men and women who serve and sacrifice in Canada's name," MacKay's spokesman, Jay Paxton, wrote in an email. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.