© Photo Special to The Guardian
Brooke MacMillan, chief executive officer, P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission
The P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission charged over $20,000 to taxpayers for trips, restaurant meals and functions over a two-year period, an amount Opposition Leader Steven Myers says is unacceptable.
Documents obtained through Freedom of Information legislation by a Progressive Conservative party member shows $5,200 was charged to taxpayers for functions and events held at Sims Steakhouse in Charlottetown over a six-month period in 2013.
The documents also show Liquor Control Commission CEO Brooke MacMillan spent over $18,000 travelling and dining out between August 2011 and June 2013.
Myers says he believes these amounts are too high, zeroing in particularly on the thousands spent at restaurants.
“It’s an enormous amount of money particularly at a time when people are struggling to put food on their own tables,” Myers said.
“I think it speaks to the sense of entitlement there, both with Brooke (MacMillan) and the Ghiz government.”
A total of 10 meals and events hosted at Sims Steakhouse between June and December 2013 came with high price tags. One event described as a ‘senior management retirement function’ on Sept. 30 came to $1,210.
Another ‘board and senior management staff function’ on Dec. 17 cost taxpayers $1,971.
A hefty pile of MacMillan’s credit card statements and receipts were also released as part of the Freedom of Information request.
They show MacMillan travelled 19 times between August 2011 and June 2013 to locations such as Halifax, Montreal, Banff and New York City.
For each trip, expenses for mileage, airfare, hotels, meals and tolls were charged.
MacMillan also submitted several additional meal receipts for restaurant expenses in P.E.I.
One $72 meal at Papa Joe’s on April 18, 2012, described as a retirement lunch for two employees of over 30 years, included four alcoholic beverages charged to MacMillan’s government credit card.
Myers was highly critical of the expenses, stating his belief that MacMillan likes to ‘treat himself.’
“I certainly don’t think it’s necessary,” Myers said.
“Yeah, there’s probably times when he needs to travel, but his job is to bring in revenue for the province of Prince Edward Island, not to have huge expenditures and at this point he seems to be spending money at a pretty rapid pace.”
Tourism Minister Robert Henderson was unavailable for an interview with The Guardian Wednesday, but in an email said MacMillan’s expenses are in line with those of previous employees who have held his position at the Liquor Commission in P.E.I. and in other provinces.
He also defended MacMillan’s numerous trips, which amount to over $17,000 over two-years.
“The CEO is required to travel to various events and conferences to help ensure the LCC is up to date on current best practices, product options and industry standards,” Henderson said in an emailed statement to The Guardian.
“That travel has been crucial to maintain and expand on the LCC’s annual sales of close to $100 million.”
The Guardian did contact MacMillan for comment on this story. He deferred comment to the minister and the liquor agency.