One could take as political posturing Mike Redmond’s position that expenses incurred by members of the P.E.I. Legislature and paid for by P.E.I. taxpayers should be available for public scrutiny.
The position applies to neither the leader of the Island New Democrats nor any other member of his party because no one from his party is currently an MLA.
That’s subject to change in the next or a subsequent provincial election and it would then be up to Redmond and his colleagues to disclose the expenses they incur at taxpayers’ expense.
Of course, it should already be that way. The public needs to be able to scrutinize whatever expenses their taxes are covering.
We should be able to compare spending habits and judge whether MLAs are spending wisely and prudently.
MLAs do have the right and the expectation to be reimbursed for expenses they incur in carrying out their duties, but they also have a responsibility to spend wisely.
They don’t need the best rooms while they are attending meetings off-Island, and car rental really isn’t needed if public transit or taxis are readily available.
By needing to disclose expenses, MLAs might spend more prudently and look for best prices rather than risk having taxpayers point out their wastefulness.
It’s all about making MLAs more accountable to the taxpayer, for they can be brought down as easily over a $16 glass of orange juice as they can over a wasteful highway project.
And not just MLAs.
Any public sector worker whose expenses are covered by the taxpayer should be accountable to the public about their spending.
Attend a meeting? Fill out a mileage claim, shop around for the best room rates and, would you really get the most expensive steak on the menu if you knew someone was keeping track?
By the way, there’s nothing generous about picking up the table tab when the taxpayer is footing the bill.
MLAs, municipal politicians and anyone on government-appointed committees need to show they are aware of the current economic climate by keeping their expenses within reason.
Such expenditures really are the small stuff, but they are symptomatic of this province’s growing debt. If provincial and municipal politicians and other public figures can’t control their own spending then how can we expect them to look for the most cost-effective way of dealing with the big-ticket expenditures?