MPs should publish spending online: Watchdog group 0
Former International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa June 20, 2012. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)
OTTAWA - The feds maintain former cabinet minister Bev Oda paid back Canadians after a string of inappropriate expenses but a taxpayer watchdog group says MPs should be forced to publish spending details online - a policy that will soon to apply to provincial politicians in Alberta.
Reports surfaced this weekend that Oda charged taxpayers for a $250 smoking fee she was slapped with while staying at a Washington hotel in 2010.
The former minister of international co-operation, who reimbursed Canadians two years later, was in the U.S. capital for a conference on maternal health.
Oda was also known for trying to expense other lavish costs during her time in office, including a $16 glass of orange juice during a 2011 trip to London, England.
She announced she was leaving her job in government this July.
"The former minister has apologized and reimbursed taxpayers for inappropriate expenses," said Neil Desai, a spokesman for Oda's former office.
As of October, travel, accommodation, meals and hospitality expenses for Alberta government officials will be posted online - a practice also being carried out in jurisdictions like the City of Toronto.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) said federal government officials should have to face similar public scrutiny.
"We'll soon be able to look at every receipt from every MLA and senior bureaucrat in Alberta and every Toronto city councillor, but not our own Members of Parliament," said CTF's federal director Gregory Thomas. "It's ridiculous."
Alberta Premier Alison Redford has also imposed new rules banning taxpayer-funded booze, first-class travel on short trips and hospitality expenses of more than $600 must be pre-approved.
Current rules outlined by the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy enable MPs to spend 3% of their budgets, or up to $10,734, on hospitality. Details of MP spending is not publicly available.
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