Newfoundland and Labrador senators cost taxpayers $2 million and rising

James McLeod
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The Senate chamber

By James McLeod

The Telegram

The province’s contingent of senators cost taxpayers more than $2 million in one year, and next year they’ll likely cost quite a bit more.

Based on an analysis of Senate quarterly disclosure reports between March 1, 2012 and Feb. 28, 2013, five Newfoundland and Labrador senators cost more than $1.2 million for staff, office supplies, living expenses and travel.

Sen. David Wells was appointed late in January, so there’s virtually no data on his spending yet.

On top of their expenses, each senator gets a salary of $132,300, along with extra pay for chairing committees and taking on other roles.

Add it all up, and the province’s cohort in the Senate cost just over $2 million.

The majority of that money is the cost of running senators’ offices and paying staff — more than $600,000 for the five senators, not counting Wells.

The next biggest cost — $461,619.11 — is spent on flights back and forth between Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.

In the three-month period from June to August 2012, Sen. Fabian Manning set the record among N.L. senators by spending $38,911.58 in travel back and forth to the nation’s capital.

In recent months, most of the focus has been on P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy, who improperly claimed more than $90,000 in expenses. Saskatchewan Sen. Pamela Wallin has also repaid tens of thousands of dollars in expenses.

The Telegram has no reason to believe that any senator from this province has inappropriately charged any money; this is simply the legitimate cost of having representatives in the Senate.

“I know the question you’re going to ask me, which I can’t answer. The question you’re going to ask is, ‘Am I worth it?’” Senator Elizabeth Marshall said when The Telegram got in touch with her.

“People themselves have got to answer that question.”

Every senator The Telegram spoke to for this story said they don’t believe most people really know what the job entails (See related story, page A5), but Marshall said it’s up to the members of the red chamber to change that.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do with regard to the Senate,” she said. “As it stands right now, we’re here, and we’ve got to make it work.”

New Democrat MP Megan Leslie tried to shut down the Senate this week; in the House of Commons, she moved to remove all funding from the Senate starting July 1st.



“It just says, essentially, stop giving them money,” Leslie said. “Overall, it’s $92.5 million a year, which is frankly, $92.5 million too much. That is the annual taxes of over 8,000 average families to pay for that.”

Tim Uppal, the Conservative minister responsible for Senate reform, was not available for an interview. A spokesman sent a statement on his behalf.

“Our government is focused on delivering meaningful reform to the Senate — including elections, term limits and tough spending oversight,” spokesman Cory Hann wrote in an email.

“The prime minister has been clear that the Senate must either change or be abolished.”

When it comes to the actual cost of Newfoundland senators’ expenses, there’s not much difference between political parties.

At $289,000, Conservative Fabian Manning was the most expensive senator; Marshall, a fellow Conservative, was the least expensive at $203,000.

Liberal George Furey had the most expensive staff and office budget — $153,000 — for the 12-month period The Telegram looked at compared to Conservative Norm Doyle, who spent $89,000 in the same period.

On the other hand, Doyle’s travel from Newfoundland to Ottawa was $130,000 for the year, compared to $86,000 for Furey.

In The Telegram’s analysis, the only reported spending for Conservative David Wells, who was appointed on Jan. 25, was $4,131.78 for office expenses.

Next year, that will almost certainly be much, much more.

Twitter: TelegramJames

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Recent comments

  • Marg
    June 10, 2013 - 22:26

    It's bad enough that Senators and Politicians are receiving big fat salaries, benefits, expenses, pensions, etc., for doing very little, but most of them are a bunch of thieves without a conscience.

    • A different view
      June 11, 2013 - 09:21

      While I agree that the goings on in the senate these last few months have been less than desirable. I do want to respond to Marg's comment. Please remember it is easy to sit on a computer and criticize people for what they do wrong, their big huge pensions, their large salaries. These people get scrutinized every single day for what they do and do not do! What you and most people don't realize is to get salaries and pensions they like most other Canadians they go to work daily!! They get up at 3:30am and they catch 5am flights! They leave kids, girlfriends, parents, wives every week to travel for work whether that be to Ottawa or to some other part of the country or the world. Their day don't end at 4pm or 5pm. Their day ends at 10,11,12 pm and later. They work 12-15 hours a day and not just 5 days a week. I much rather my taxes pay for people who go to work on behalf of Canadians than those who sit home collecting social services, wearing their pajamas and talking on their Iphones on MY tax paying dollar for months and years at a time! There is a few bad apples in every bunch and take advantage of the system and politicians and Senators are no different in which we have seen with Senator Duffy. But please remember it is easy to sit and complain it is not as easy to take initiative and do something about it! So the next time you sit here writing these comments please remember the kids, the partners, the school concerts, the first steps, the first laughs, that people in the public eye miss out on. Money is not everything!

  • Marie
    June 10, 2013 - 08:17

    Get rid of the Senate, as well as most high paying political positions with their huge expense accounts, pensions, etc. For what they do for Canadian citizens, I'm sure about three quarters of these so-called- jobs can be abolished, and millions upon millions of taxpayers' dollars put to better use, such as health care and education.

  • concerned citizen
    June 10, 2013 - 06:09

    I think the MP'S and Senators are paid too much money and their pensions are very rich compared to civil servants. Here we have Harper stripping benefits from workers while topping up his own pension and those of his buddies in the Senate and those of his fellow MP's. Disgusting!!! ABC both federal and provincial next time around.

    • Tim Jamison
      June 10, 2013 - 09:01

      The Conservatives actually passed a bill reducing their pensions, not "topping them up", but who needs facts when you've got feelings?

  • Judy
    June 09, 2013 - 21:26

    It is absolutely disgusting and beyond frustrating and sickening to see such a total waste of taxpayers' money. What exactly are Senators' responsibilities and duties to warrant such huge salaries and expenses? Because I am an ordinary income earner without the blessing of medical benefits, I cannot even afford my necessary diabetic supplies and insulin, and yet we have no choice but put up with such astronomical amounts of abuse of OUR tax dollars; OUR money. It's the majority of politicians; not just Senators. And they are suppose to be the LEADERS of our great nation of Canada???

  • Enough
    June 09, 2013 - 11:51

    And they had the nerve to lay off so many! Taking care of their buddies, its always been that way. We don't need this. Did you hear that? We need the workers that were laid off back to work before they have to move away. Should they be so lucky to have these plum positions with hugh salaries and expense accounts. Then they begrudge workers a raise. Hey, the cost of living can go up but don't expect your wages to increase just get used to a lower standard of living while they leave with big pensions. They are working against us not for us.

  • Eli
    June 09, 2013 - 07:37

    I never sees eider one of 'em pickin' up a case a'beer at the corner store on a Saturday nite. De should have sumptin' to swig while adding up d'er weekly receipts f'er more money.

  • taxpayer fedup with corruption
    June 08, 2013 - 21:47

    and what about george baker and bill rompkey. whats their expence? its seems a little bias to me that your newspaper just mention conservatives. ITS SICKENING ! please print what all senators from newfoundland/labrador cost us.

  • My opinion
    June 08, 2013 - 21:41

    Shut it down.

  • Eli
    June 08, 2013 - 18:51

    Does Senator Marshall really think we're that green. If she felt the equivalent of reform was in order for the senate why the hell didn't she make that known before Duffygate?

  • Me
    June 08, 2013 - 16:50

    Utterly ridiculous, abolish the senate!

  • Jim
    June 08, 2013 - 11:50

    “People themselves have got to answer that question.” We can't we don't vote you in or out. How do we answer that question?

  • Edmund
    June 08, 2013 - 11:12

    Absolutely disghusting. Simply put the Senate and msenators are a total waste of our tax dollars. Not only do we not know what they do, the senators don't either because they don't DO anything that is of any use to the public or the country. Abolish it once and for all. These senators do not need nor deserve these political perks.

  • Joseph mulrooney
    June 08, 2013 - 10:35

    One question I have is HOW DO WE MAKE OUR GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL ACCOUTABLE FOR THEIR ACTION OR INACTIONS, I am sick of their feelings of intitlement, they get into government and right away they start finding ways to squander our tax dollars while the ordinary Joe has to fine ways to cope with everyday living, they need to be reminded that they have been hired to do a job like the rest of us so stop wasting our money and start earning their salary legitametly and stop putting all their energy into finding ways to line their pockets at our expense

  • Mike
    June 08, 2013 - 09:22

    And what about the indirect costs associated with the Senate? The people in finance that have to process the money in and out? The many people in other departments that have duties related to the Senate? Add another 40 to 50% to that figure for sure!

  • Good
    June 08, 2013 - 08:42

    This is not much considering what we are getting.

  • not a happy camper
    June 08, 2013 - 08:26

    im not sure what the answer is but one I do know is that we need senate reform and I do not trust harper to do the job. weather senators are worth what we pay them I just don't know because I don't really know what function they preform, it seems Conservative senators do exactally what Harper tells them to do, so i guess why do we need them? we have a governor General that also takes orders from the PM, so maybe we are in need of a total house cleaning, we sure do need OTTAWA cleaned up and the sooner the better

  • monte
    June 08, 2013 - 08:17

    Time to abolish the senate and take away the public pig trough. If our senators are costing 2 mil what is being spent on Ont/Que senators. While their at that maybe they do away with the Governor General position and his Lts right across the country. I'm sure this would save the taxpayers 500 million to do away with these two useless depts.