Musings —06.10.2010 03:37 PM—
The ongoing revelations about Harper regime G8 expenditures reminded a sharp-eyed reader about what happened when the Cons had their hands in the provincial till. From the archives:
Smarties, cocktails expensed by Tories — 12,000 pages of documents yield unusual receipts
Seven years of spending from ministers and staff
Richard Brennan and Theresa Boyle
5 December 2002
The Toronto Star
Copyright (c) 2002 The Toronto Star
Former Northern Development and Mines Minister Tim Hudak travelled the world, his successor Dan Newman spent more than $23 on Smarties, and former environment minister Elizabeth Witmer’s staff sipped Cosmopolitan cocktails.
And they did all of this on the taxpayers’ tab.
They’re just a few of the thousands of examples of Conservative cabinet ministers, their parliamentary assistants and staff expenses.
The information is contained in about 12,000 pages of Freedom of Information documents dumped on reporters to limit media coverage of spending over the past seven years that the Tories have been in power.
“This is just more evidence that this is a government that regards public money as something that you play with, whether it’s rewarding their corporate friends, their consulting friends, or their own expense accounts,” NDP Leader Howard Hampton said yesterday.
The Tories introduced legislation they say will tighten things up after former tourism minister Cam Jackson was forced from cabinet for spending more than $70,000 on fancy meals and downtown Toronto hotels.
“I can’t do anything about what has gone on before except ask people to repay the taxpayers what they think was paid inappropriately …,” Premier Ernie Eves told reporters.
Hudak said his travel was business related and dealt with the mines side of his portfolio, and insists his then-girlfriend paid her own way on trips to Las Vegas and Rio de Janeiro, although there is no record of that.
Hudak also billed taxpayers $575 for a television set from Future Shop.
Liberal MPP Michael Gravelle (Thunder Bay-Superior North) said Hudak’s globetrotting did little for Northern Ontario.
“It is sure difficult to understand what benefit there would be to northerners having the minister spending times in exotic locales…it really is bizarre,” Gravelle said.
Energy, Science and Technology Minister Jim Wilson told reporters yesterday it is not unusual for his staff to be paid for getting to and from work.
“It’s not unusual to have a package of salary and benefits for people and that was one of the benefits extended,” Wilson said, referring to his executive assistant getting his GO Transit ticket paid for.
Education Minister Elizabeth, when she was environment minister, allowed her staff to charge $15 for two Cosmopolitan cocktails at the Muse Bistro and Wine Bar. Ministerial rules say that alcohol can’t be claimed as an expense.
When Chris Stockwell was labour minister he and his staff charged more than $100 at a place called the Old Sod Pub in Etobicoke.
On June 12, 2001 his office had a “meeting” and expensed $571 at Sassafraz, a swank Yorkville restaurant that is a favourite haunt for visiting movie stars.
During his three years as labour minister he and his staff charged thousands on pub visits and expensive meals, eventually $3,000 was paid back.
While he was on a $300,000 contract to the health minister’s office as a communications consultant, Gord Haugh billed taxpayers more than $6,400 in expenses on a six-day trip, including $2,500 for hotels, $600 for phone calls, and $2,783 for meals and six bottles of wine.