Exposing bureaucrats and politicians traveling, wining and dining on the taxpayers’ dime has been a long-time priority of the CTF. In fact, the CTF’s flagship event each year, the Teddy Waste Awards, are named after one of Ottawa’s most prolific expenders of fine dining: Ted Weatherill.
The solution to curtail this is very simple: post all the expenses of politicians and bureaucrats online. After all it’s taxpayers’ money and the ones spending it should be accountable.
Following the Sponsorship scandal in Ottawa, Prime Minister Paul Martin ordered all senior staff and cabinet ministers to begin posting their expenses online. While stopping short of putting receipts online as well as the expenses for all Senators and Members of Parliament, it was a great start.
The CTF has pushed for politicians and bureaucrats at all three levels of government to disclose their expenses, including receipts, online for all to see. This is what the City of Toronto does and it remains the gold-standard of expense disclosure in Canada. CTF campaigns in Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, B.C. and Ottawa have started to gain traction.
In 2010, following the CTFs release of some embarrassing MLA expenses in Saskatchewan, both the NDP and Saskatchewan Parties agreed to adopt the CTF recommendation of putting their expenses online. And in record time!
Next door in Manitoba, a commissioner responsible for changing the rules for MLA expenses acted on almost every CTF recommendation presented to him. Soon, Manitoba taxpayers should be able to view more details of provincial politicians’ expenses online.
In 2011, the Nova Scotia government said it would commit to putting provincial politicians expenses on-line for all to see. But when it came time for the policy to be implemented, politicians got cold feet. Taxpayers were angry that the government would not stick to its promise of full disclosure. The CTF gave a voice to those taxpayers, writing to the speaker of the Legislature and conducting media interviews to push for change. And after just one day of the CTF’s campaign, the government gave in and now all expenses and detailed information are posted on-line for taxpayers to see.
In 2012, following an audit of the B.C. Legislature and a sustained campaign by the CTF for better expense disclosure, an all-party committee of MLAs agreed to start putting up expenses online in calendar 2012.
Also in 2012, after the CTF extracted a written commitment from Alberta Premier Alison Redford that she would follow the Toronto model she appointed an associate minister responsible for Accountability, Transparency and Transformation who has since announced that all MLAs, cabinet ministers, the premier, political staff and senior bureaucrats - some 400 people in all - will be required to post hospitality and travel expenses online including receipts.