Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: MPs Deserve a Spending Audit, Too

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: MPs Deserve a Spending Audit, Too

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: MPs deserve a spending audit, too

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published June 15:

Given senators' monumental failure to police their own spending Canadians have good reason to wonder if their elected MPs are doing any better. There's one way to find out: have Auditor General Michael Ferguson do for the House of Commons what he did for the Red Chamber.

Ferguson's long-awaited report on Senate expenses concluded last week that 30 former and current senators had inappropriately spent almost $1 million. In nine cases these excesses were so outlandish that the RCMP was asked to investigate.

It amounts to a serious breach of public trust. But a Canadian Press story put this in context, noting that more than twice as many Members of Parliament have been accused of improper spending in the past five years, with more than quadruple the amount of money that's involved in the Senate scandal. Yet there have been "no external audits, no suspensions, no referrals to the police, no criminal investigations, no charges laid," and no auditor general poking into these affairs.

Instead, alleged abuses by MPs have been handled by the Board of Internal Economy, a secretive multi-party panel that oversees parliamentary spending. It's a convenient arrangement, one that typically results in no greater punishment than requiring those found to have done wrong to pay back what they took.

The Senate invited Ferguson to conduct an audit amid rising concern over the scandalous antics of senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and others. The Commons should now ask for a similar review. Canadians deserve accountability from both houses of Parliament.

In releasing his Senate findings, Ferguson made a point of noting that MPs could draw some useful lessons from his report, including the importance of disclosure and need for independent oversight. …

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