High cost of airfare drives up their expenses: MPs

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Gary Kean
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Judy Foote

The two Liberal MPs who represent western Newfoundland in Ottawa say there’s one good reason — or maybe one bad one — why their public spending is among the highest of any Commons members from across Canada.

It’s the same reason why Liberal MPs from all over Eastern Canada have spent the most among their party colleagues.

The culprit is the sky-high cost of airfare.

The amount these members spend was made public as part of the Liberal Party of Canada’s policy of proactive disclosure, through which the spending of all Liberal MPs will be publicized quarterly throughout the year.

The spending of each Liberal MP can be viewed on the party’s website by clicking on the words “Proactive Disclosure” found on the profile of each representative.

Judy Foote, the Liberal Commons member for Random–Burin–St. George's, spent $22,131.68 on travel costs in the last quarter of 2013. Gerry Byrne, the Liberal Commons member for Humber–St. Barbe–Baie Verte, spent $21,470.22 during that time.

The breakdown of their travel spending reveals that it usually costs these MPs more than $2,000 to make each return trip from their ridings to Ottawa to attend Parliamentary sessions and other business.

Both Byrne and Foote say all MPs do what they can to lower their travel costs. Both of them now purchase economy flight passes that permits them to get multiple flights at a lower cost.

“That results in, on average, a 20 per cent reduction in airline fares,” said Byrne. “ But, the unfortunate reality of living in the most easternmost province of Canada is that our expenses will come in much higher than those MPs from Montreal, Toronto or the nation’s capital.”

He said it would be inappropriate for anyone to think MPs from elsewhere in the country are more fiscally responsible just from simply looking at the bottom lines of their travel expenses.

Foote may have the most unhandy riding in the entire country, with its geography taking in a chunk of southwestern Newfoundland and jumping over to portions of the south and east coast.

She said it is important for an MP to be present in Ottawa and to visit the people in their riding, even if it is a difficult one geographically as hers certainly is.

“If you don’t get out around your riding, how can you serve the people who elected you?” Foote asked.

“We do a lot by phone and that’s important too, but there are people who really want to see you because there are things they want to show you. So, it’s important to have that presence in the communities you represent as well.”

Organizations: Liberal Commons, Liberal Party of Canada

Geographic location: Ottawa, Newfoundland, Eastern Canada Canada.It St. George's Montreal Toronto

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  • david
    February 26, 2014 - 10:12

    From Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 (ie. the period of these expenses), the House of Commons sat fro a total of 44 days over a period of 9 calendar weeks. Thus, the maximum travel required, back a forth from their ridings was 9 return trips. The "blame" is being squarely put on excessively high airfares. Well, $25.,000 for 9 return airfares (NL-Ottawa) averages $2,750 each. Given that the dates of the House sitting are known WELL in advance, there is no need to get "last minute" fares....you (...we) seem to be getting quite ripped off. My suggestion? Given that the tens of thousands of Aeroplan points each of you 'earn' (....hmmmmm) every year for this excessively expensive travel are paid for by taxpayers, how about MP's redeem them on trips to Ottawa? Talk it over among yourselves .... I'm sure it will help you accomplish your stated desire to help out the poor taxpayer.

    • david
      February 26, 2014 - 16:05

      FYI: I encourage people to go to the Air Canada website and look at the cost of flying to Ottawa right now, on just one ( o-n-e ! ) day's notice. It can be as cheap as $450 return, and there are dozens of flight choices for under $1000 return. So this excuse is flimsy and suspicious at best, and possibly represents an outright systemic scandal at worst.

  • New Veteran
    February 26, 2014 - 08:42

    I left Corner Brook in 1976. As it costs much less to fly to Europe, Southern USA, Mexico or the Caribbean than it does to get to Newfoundland, I haven't been down home much. I just did a quick check on AC and a Flex flight round trip to Deer Lake ranged from $1429 to $2268 before taxes. Round trip to Orlando was $1369 to $2055. As we are talking about a family of four, the difference adds up very quickly. Fix the cost of travel in Canada and you may get my vote.

  • Crazy
    February 26, 2014 - 04:03

    To many unnecessary trips. They like to think the taxpayers pockets, are their own personal account.Its not like they are doing something for the people.