Harper distances himself from MP expenses flap

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Not his jurisdiction, PM says

Prime Minister Stephen Harper distanced himself Friday from concerns over the secrecy surrounding expenses by members of Parliament.

Speaking in this border city, Harper said how MPs spend their money has nothing to do with him.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper poses for the cameras while wearing a hard hat during a visit Friday to Lundys Lane Historical Museum in Niagara Falls, Ont. Photo by The Canadian?Press

Prime Minister Stephen Harper distanced himself Friday from concerns over the secrecy surrounding expenses by members of Parliament.

Speaking in this border city, Harper said how MPs spend their money has nothing to do with him.

"This is a matter that is not under the government's jurisdiction," Harper said.

"Parliament is independent on these matters and, through the Board of Internal Economy, makes its own decisions."

The all-party Board of Internal Economy that oversees MP budgets and expenses, and which meets behind closed doors, has nixed a request by auditor general Sheila Fraser to examine MP expenses.

The board said it would "go beyond" her mandate.

That decision sparked consternation among Canadians, according to polls, and MPs who have received calls from constituents about the issue.

Some MPs have said it is up to voters, not Fraser, to pass judgment on their spending.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said this week he didn't think Canadians wanted to see every restaurant receipt politicians submit.

Fraser has insisted she does have the right to look at the books, saying she simply wants to improve management practises - not go on a witch hunt.

Only Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe has expressed support for Fraser's position.

Collectively, Parliamentarians spend more than $500 million a year on a wide array of services, from offices and security to training in public relations.

MP expenses are currently not subject to access to information laws and a full audit has not been done for decades.

However, many parliamentarians say their expenses are routinely checked for compliance with spending rules and a separate audit by Fraser is unnecessary.

Harper said he understood there were "some discussions" ongoing about making the expenses more transparent.

"The government is responsible for ministers," he said.

"My biggest concern is that we want to see Parliament work to limit the growth of its expenses."

Harper's comments came during an announcement for the expansion of the Niagara Falls History Museum ahead of bicentennial celebrations of the War of 1812.

Organizations: Board of Internal Economy, Bloc Quebecois, Niagara Falls History Museum

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Recent comments

  • Ed.
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    since mr. harper thinks it is not controlled by parliament then he can probably tell me who appoints the internal committee and how many private citizens (ordinary working class taxpayers or us struggling retirees) are on that committee. i am sick and tired of giving politicians most of my small pension for them to live like royalty at my expense. i hope and pray that the AG gets to look at the books. this will be a bigger scandal than NFLD. and Nova Scotia put together. more like the British scandal, thats why the politicians are running scared.

  • Eddy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Ladies and Gentlemen, the solution is quite clear. Demand your MP to provide records on the amounts claimed and receipts supporting such claims. Should they fail to comply, do whatever is necessary to deprive them of their position. Make sure they never get elected. Find someone willing to make such records available on demand. If you cannot find such a person, run for office yourself (you probably know more than your current MPat least you can balance a chequebook).

    Do not surrender any of your power to them! Demand a proper accounting of your money! You are Canada. Reminding them daily of their duty to this nation and her people!

  • Lloyd
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Speaking in this border city, Harper said how MPs spend their money has nothing to do with him.

    This is a matter that is not under the government's jurisdiction, Harper said.

    ---------------------

    OK, fair enough that the government can't tell MPs how to spend (sorry, not theirs, but our) money. Fair enough that the PM can't tell them also.
    But:
    Does he actually mean that a PM can't show leadership and encourage transparency and openness?
    Since the PM is also an MP representing a district, what is his position on this issue, speaking as an MP? No doubt he too gets an MPs allowance to spend.

  • bill
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    what a croc. If there is nothing to hide then let her in

  • Lloyd
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Way too true Mary Whelan from stjonn,s.
    The dangers of such a thing should be all too painfully true right here right now.
    We just became owners of a paper mill in just that sort of fashion, recently.
    And I heard another MHA vow to support another related Bill very shortly after that even.

  • Chris
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    'This is a matter that is not under the government's jurisdiction' Harper said.
    Its OUR money. Hello!

    It's also disappointing that that MP's from our province are towing the party lines on this. I guess a backbone is not a requirement for a job in the House of Commons.

  • g-man
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    i say if we give harper his majority..it would be a case of becareful what you wish for.i dont care what people say,this guy has a hidden agenda.this guy(harper)will do whatever it takes to get a majority.whenever this guy(harper)gets upset,you will notice alot of times he uses his finger to point out his cause,and who used to use finger pointing with speeches?.i dont know where this countries head is to,but its time for real people to smarten up and get rid of this harper.this goverment(cons)have been eroding our standing in the world everyday.whenever this goverment(cons) say they speak for the people canada,they cant be talking about me.these idiots (cons)dont repersent my canada.

  • mary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    how can voters pass judgement on the monies spent if we can't find out how it is spent?

  • wouldnt ya know
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Bones --- Graham: Yes, the difference is quite clear. Quite clear indeed. Allow me to remind you that Williams let the AG IN. See the difference? That shouldn't be too confusing for you, lol.
    Yep, he sure did...then slammed the door and put dead bolts on it AFTER one of HIS best ministers got shot in the foot...LOL on you bro!!

  • Graham
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    g-man look at the huge majority we gave Danny Williams and we all know how that turned out. Finger pointing blame games. So much alike. Oh well Bones loves Danny so nothing else really matters anyway. Confusion is condition you seem all too familiar with Bones, but like has been said many times thats your problem not ours.. I bett for this long weekend the cool-aid comes in assorted flavours. Drink up Bones. Cheers.

  • KB
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Wow Bones Danny has you working on a long weekend does he? No need to suck up now Bones your job is safe but your secret is a not so safe. LOL Wink Wink.

  • Bones
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Graham: Yes, the difference is quite clear. Quite clear indeed. Allow me to remind you that Williams let the AG IN. See the difference? That shouldn't be too confusing for you, lol.

  • Graham
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Steve Williams, or Danny Harper? I cant tell the difference. Can you?

  • Brendan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    If its up to voters to pass judgement on MPs spending, lets insist on seeing their expense records. Lets start a campaign to open their books now. Contact your MPs office or let them fleece us forever.

  • Keith
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    mary whelan from st.jonn,s, n.l writes: how can voters pass judgement on the monies spent if we can't find out how it is spent?

    Easy, Mary: We assume that if they don't want us looking, they have something to hide - so we vote out any MP who opposes a review by the AG.

  • Ed.
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    since mr. harper thinks it is not controlled by parliament then he can probably tell me who appoints the internal committee and how many private citizens (ordinary working class taxpayers or us struggling retirees) are on that committee. i am sick and tired of giving politicians most of my small pension for them to live like royalty at my expense. i hope and pray that the AG gets to look at the books. this will be a bigger scandal than NFLD. and Nova Scotia put together. more like the British scandal, thats why the politicians are running scared.

  • Eddy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    Ladies and Gentlemen, the solution is quite clear. Demand your MP to provide records on the amounts claimed and receipts supporting such claims. Should they fail to comply, do whatever is necessary to deprive them of their position. Make sure they never get elected. Find someone willing to make such records available on demand. If you cannot find such a person, run for office yourself (you probably know more than your current MPat least you can balance a chequebook).

    Do not surrender any of your power to them! Demand a proper accounting of your money! You are Canada. Reminding them daily of their duty to this nation and her people!

  • Lloyd
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    Speaking in this border city, Harper said how MPs spend their money has nothing to do with him.

    This is a matter that is not under the government's jurisdiction, Harper said.

    ---------------------

    OK, fair enough that the government can't tell MPs how to spend (sorry, not theirs, but our) money. Fair enough that the PM can't tell them also.
    But:
    Does he actually mean that a PM can't show leadership and encourage transparency and openness?
    Since the PM is also an MP representing a district, what is his position on this issue, speaking as an MP? No doubt he too gets an MPs allowance to spend.

  • bill
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    what a croc. If there is nothing to hide then let her in

  • Lloyd
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Way too true Mary Whelan from stjonn,s.
    The dangers of such a thing should be all too painfully true right here right now.
    We just became owners of a paper mill in just that sort of fashion, recently.
    And I heard another MHA vow to support another related Bill very shortly after that even.

  • Chris
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    'This is a matter that is not under the government's jurisdiction' Harper said.
    Its OUR money. Hello!

    It's also disappointing that that MP's from our province are towing the party lines on this. I guess a backbone is not a requirement for a job in the House of Commons.

  • g-man
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    i say if we give harper his majority..it would be a case of becareful what you wish for.i dont care what people say,this guy has a hidden agenda.this guy(harper)will do whatever it takes to get a majority.whenever this guy(harper)gets upset,you will notice alot of times he uses his finger to point out his cause,and who used to use finger pointing with speeches?.i dont know where this countries head is to,but its time for real people to smarten up and get rid of this harper.this goverment(cons)have been eroding our standing in the world everyday.whenever this goverment(cons) say they speak for the people canada,they cant be talking about me.these idiots (cons)dont repersent my canada.

  • mary
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    how can voters pass judgement on the monies spent if we can't find out how it is spent?

  • wouldnt ya know
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Bones --- Graham: Yes, the difference is quite clear. Quite clear indeed. Allow me to remind you that Williams let the AG IN. See the difference? That shouldn't be too confusing for you, lol.
    Yep, he sure did...then slammed the door and put dead bolts on it AFTER one of HIS best ministers got shot in the foot...LOL on you bro!!

  • Graham
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    g-man look at the huge majority we gave Danny Williams and we all know how that turned out. Finger pointing blame games. So much alike. Oh well Bones loves Danny so nothing else really matters anyway. Confusion is condition you seem all too familiar with Bones, but like has been said many times thats your problem not ours.. I bett for this long weekend the cool-aid comes in assorted flavours. Drink up Bones. Cheers.

  • KB
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    Wow Bones Danny has you working on a long weekend does he? No need to suck up now Bones your job is safe but your secret is a not so safe. LOL Wink Wink.

  • Bones
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    Graham: Yes, the difference is quite clear. Quite clear indeed. Allow me to remind you that Williams let the AG IN. See the difference? That shouldn't be too confusing for you, lol.

  • Graham
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    Steve Williams, or Danny Harper? I cant tell the difference. Can you?

  • Brendan
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    If its up to voters to pass judgement on MPs spending, lets insist on seeing their expense records. Lets start a campaign to open their books now. Contact your MPs office or let them fleece us forever.

  • Keith
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    mary whelan from st.jonn,s, n.l writes: how can voters pass judgement on the monies spent if we can't find out how it is spent?

    Easy, Mary: We assume that if they don't want us looking, they have something to hide - so we vote out any MP who opposes a review by the AG.