Senators: entitled to their entitlements

It's remarkable that senators, in the middle of a spending scandal that has come to define the Upper Chamber, would be so brazen in the dingwalling of taxpayers.

But that's how bad things have gotten in the Senate, governed by a policy that asks senators to exercise "sound judgment" when making travel-related decisions.

CBC News combed through the voluntary disclosure of expense reports of Conservative senators over a five-week period last fall (Liberal senators at the time, now Senate Liberals, have not posted their expenses), and found plenty of evidence of entitled senators.

"Three of the top four Tory travel spenders in the Senate claimed a total of $24,011.79 on business class airfares for themselves and another $13,719.21 on business class flights for their spouses," CBC News discovered.

Some highlights:

  • Ontario Senator Don Meredith has access to free executive class rail travel to Ottawa from Toronto on Via Rail, but opted instead to fly executive class by air, paying as much as $1,400 per pop. At that price, former Conservative cabinet minister Bev Oda could buy a glass of $16 orange juice every day for 87 days.
  • Alberta Senator Scott Tannas of Calgary billed $12,000 to taxpayers for a two-day trip to Ottawa for himself and his wife. (The Senate policy stipulates spouses and family members can travel with senators for "'family reunion' after a lengthy time apart.") At that price, Oda could buy that same glass of $16 orange juice every day for 750 days. "I must be the prize winner on the flight for getting to buy the most expensive seat," an "embarrassed" Tannas told CBC.

Has the dingwalling of taxpayers finally "come back to haunt entitled Tories"?

Photo: chocolatediscoUsed under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.

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