Do Canadian politicians spend too much?
How does one measure progress?
Stephen Harper, for example, is Canada’s leader. You may not like it, but he is the voice of Canada for the world to hear. Surely, then, it’s important he visit foreign nations and fight for Canada’s agenda, not to mention what our country should be responsible for in the realm of global politics.
Yet how much is too much? A new report from the Vancouver Sun shows that Harper’s 15 trips, business and otherwise, cost about $7 million to taxpayers in the last year.
“It’s important that Canada’s voice is heard,” the PM’s press secretary, Andrew MacDougall, said in defence of the findings.
“Yes, these things do cost money but we do remember that we are at the service of the taxpayer and that we bring back results that we can point to and say, ‘This is what we accomplished on behalf of all Canadians.’”
A full breakdown of Harper’s travel costs (click here) is sure to give fodder to any critics of the Conservative budget – his $6,904,790 spent on trips in 2009-10 on display for the whole country to see.
Of note in the PM’s agenda were an $850,000 trip to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and South Korea to meet with foreign leaders, a $770,000 voyage to Italy to attend the G8 Summit and visit Rome and, not least, $1.4 million on travel to Singapore and various Indian destinations for the most recent APEC Summit.
We imagine these travel costs would be a fraction as those of say, Barack Obama, but this is Canada: our version of Air Force One is, not unlike our nation itself, much more modest. Seven million dollars a year to jet Harper and his aides around the globe will never sit right with many Canadians.
Indeed, opponents to these findings criticize the PM further for his reputation, based on merit or not, of spending like anything but a Conservative.
“(Harper) wastes money as if he won it in a lottery,” writes one commenter on the Sun’s message boards. “The guy has no sense on (sic) what it takes to be a Conservative.”
In defence of Harper’s spending, though, are a few fair points.
Most notably, of course, the results of the PM’s global trips. MacDougall points to Harper’s meeting in China last year that developed a new policy that will see more Chinese tourists visiting Canada going forward. In tourism revenue alone, perhaps, that trip has already more than paid for itself.
In any case, Harper’s travel budget hit headlines on the same day it was revealed Canada’s 308 MPs chalked up nearly $143 million in spending last year, a figure that’s sure to raise one divisive, time-honoured debate:
Do Canada’s politicians spend too much for the good of their taxpayers?
By Jason Buckland, MSN Money