09.22.2016 11:52 AM

I have taken it upon myself to defend Butts and Telford

I have. And here’s a bit from next week’s column, in which I, contrarian-wise, do so:

…like it or not, paying for the moves was within the rules. And the rules, believe it or not, were crafted by the very Conservatives now in a spit-flecked fury about it all. It’s right there on the Internet, if you’ve got a few hours to navigate it: executive employees (EX, they’re called) and Government-in-Council appointees (GIC) get financial help on what is benignly called “relocation.”

They get taxpayer help on the sale – that is, the difference between the appraised value of a house, and the actual sale price. They get money to help them in the “home search.” They get dough to travel home every couple weeks while the home search is underway. They get “incidental expenses” covered. Sometimes, they even get to access the treasury to cover the cost of cleaning, pet care (yes, you read that right), and something called “Accountable Sundry Expenses.”

Now, this may enrage you, and it probably should. But it’s been on the books since 2009, by my count, and that means it was the Conservatives who cooked it up. That is, the Conservatives now screaming and yelling about it.


  1. Cory says:

    All those senator expenses were within the rules too. Dingwall expensing a pack of gum was also within the rules. Regardless, its still damaging.

    I think the image of this government being careless with finances has been cemented. Whether or not this is fatal remains to be seen (see Ontario Liberals).

  2. Charlie says:

    Don’t defend it; its indefensible.

    I’m appalled that they are allowed to expense such a ridiculous amount to the taxpayer to move from Toronto to Ottawa. Its an absolutely outrageous practice and regardless of political affiliation, its another example of the egregious self-rewarding senior political staffers engage in.

    I’ve seen it with the Conservatives, I’ve seen it with Liberals and I’ve even since it with the NDP (provincially) and its exactly why my cynicism is so hardened. They all do it, and we — as partisans — need to stop defending it.

    I remember when I was offered a contract comms position with a Liberal MP in Ottawa and was told that living expenses would come out of my own pocket for the duration of those 6 months. I would’ve been walking away barely breaking even with my pay, but Butts and Telford (and a whole goddamn swath of the PMO) are somehow entitled to astro-fucking-nomical reimbursements simply because they’re senior staffers?

    Its utterly vexing and refuse to defend the practice.

  3. Lou says:

    The $16 glass of OJ was within the rules. Mr. Duffy and Ms. Wallin were within the rules. This is going to grow into a Dingwal moment of “we’re entitled to our entitlements”, focus being on entitled. Mr. Selfie should look no further than Brexit and Trump to see what seeds he is sowing. Add on the pathetic behavior of the Ontario Liberals………. Your patron and mentor would never accept this and rightfully so. It is offensive and reeks of elitism.

  4. Mark says:

    People like me and my wife stay put precisely because we can’t justify spending money on legal fees and real estate commissions. I moved my wife to Victoria BC from Sarnia Ontario eight years ago. I rented an f-ing U-Haul truck, loaded it myself, unloaded it with friends and family, ordered pizza and beer, paid the legal fees on our new place, and the commission on the sale of my wife’s place – ALL for less than $6000. How any rules can justify this flagrant abuse of our money infuriates me. This government’s disregard for the taxpayer is killing their chances for a big majority next time. Legal or not, Trudeau did not have to sign off on these expenditures, and he shouldn’t have.

  5. godot10 says:

    Justin Trudeau STILL had to sign off on it. The rules are in place for cases of real hardship or difficulty. Butts and Telford were booking over a half million dollar tax free capital gain on a principal residence each.

    If they had mortgages on their homes, by selling, they were probably locking in a 10-bagger on their original investment. The 100K reimbursement each, makes it probably close to a 1000 bagger, since it gives them most of their original principal back.

  6. godot10 says:


    Gerald Butts, the guy who Trudeau gave $125K of Canadian taxpayer dollars to move from Toronto to Ottawa, after booking a tax free capital gain of over $600K on the sale of his Toronto home, it the primary person responsible for the sky high electricity rates being paid by ordinary Ontarians.

    Butts was Principal Secretary to Premier McGuinty, who states that he was intimately involved in the government’s environmental initiatives, in particular, the alternative energy program, which lead to windfall profits for decades into the future for Bay Street financiers, the de-industrialization of Ontario due to uncompetitive electricity rates, and the subsidization of Ontario’s competitors in Michigan and New York, as Ontario is forced to sell surplus alternative energy to Michigan and New York at bargain prices

    To quote the Auditor General of Ontario:
    “The province’s wind and solar power initiatives were decided and implemented in such haste
    that “no comprehensive business-case evaluation was done to objectively evaluate the impacts
    of the billion-dollar commitment.

    And this guy is now the power behind the throne in Ottawa.

  7. Ted says:

    Where have we heard this before?
    Oh yes, someone is “entitled to entitlements.”
    Whether it’s orange juice, a home away from the real home, or the cost of a move many Canadians just expect to pay because it benefits their careers, families and lives, someone in public service seems always entitled to entitlements many Canadians somehow manage to live without.

  8. Peter says:

    Valiant, but feeble nonetheless. “Blame the Cons” is not a terribly persuasive defence to putting public cash in one’s bank account. It’s a good answer to a criminal charge, but not so much in the court of public opinion.

    They get taxpayer help on the sale – that is, the difference between the appraised value of a house. In an overheated Toronto market that guarantees a level a wealth most Canadians can only dream of? Do you know the games real estate appraisers and agents play in that kind of market?

  9. Montréalaise says:

    “The rules were crafted by the Conservatives”. So what? Didn’t Justin Trudeau and the Liberals campaign on the promise that they were going to be BETTER than the Conservatives?

  10. david Ketcheson says:

    “in which I, contrarian-wise, do so”…so you’re being ironic. Anything you write or quote should have a name below. Is Marc Stein a pal? I was just checking in on Wallin and Duffy in 2022. I hope they are still living their best fat cat lives. Kudos to you on other stuff, this and your venacular looses the message. I first thought you supported Telford and Butts. Ha.

    David Ketcheson
    18 Rhine Court
    Brampton, On.
    L6Z 1N9

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