On the top of the list

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A list of travel and hospitality expenses claimed by Liberal members of Parliament released Monday put three local representatives among the top five.

The figures show Gerry Byrne spent $21,470.22 and Judy Foote tallied 22,131.68 and Yvonne Jones claimed 24,590.22 in the period from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2013. At the top of the list was another Liberal from the province Scott Andrews, MP for the district of Avalon, who claimed $28,570.93.

It’s difficult to determine if the expenses listed are excessive or not, but it’s nonetheless interesting that three of the top five are from this tiny, remote province.

That should come as no revelation to anyone in this province, politician or not.

Related: High cost of airfare drives up expenses: MPs

The cost of air travel to and from Newfoundland is excessive and the cost for Labradorians to fly anywhere is outrageous. The expenses released by the Liberals reveal a greater general issue.

We aren’t all lucky enough to be able to charge our travel costs to taxpayers.

The vast majority of us have to reach into our wallets, our savings, if we want to flit off to Ottawa or anywhere else in the country. And again, most of us have to travel by air if we want to see our distant family members.

Outmigration from this province means thousands of families have relatives living and working in Canada’s western provinces or up North.

If we don’t go there, they have to come here and are hit with the same high cost of airline tickets compared with the rest of the country not inhabiting an island.

If any partisan pencil pushers are inclined to pick through the expenses of Liberal MPs looking for political ammunition, maybe they could also mount an investigation into why it costs almost as much to fly to St. John’s from this region as it does to fly from Halifax to Vancouver.

That would be more helpful for Canadians who travel by air into or out of this province than probing why an MP spent a few bucks on a rubber chicken dinner while meeting their constituents.

Geographic location: Avalon, Newfoundland, Ottawa Canada Halifax

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