Friday, February 21, 2014

The new "Dingwall-ed!"

"Dingwall-ed"
Good Day Readers:

Who can forget former Liberal Member of Parliament David Dingwall, Head of the Royal Canadian Mint ($277,000 annual salary) forced to resign in September of 2005 over a spending scandal but he was not alone. Under a Paul Martin government he was one of five Crown Heads who suffered a similar fate.

His taxpayer legacy:
  • $92,682 for foreign travel including a one day bill for more than $13,000
  • $40,355 for travel in Canada
  • $3,314 for dining while abroad
  • $11,173 for domestic dining, including $5,953 for a single meal at Ottawa's Brookstreet Hotel, a swanky restaurant in the nation's capital - "Jeezus, the ownership must have loved him! Wonder how much he tipped?"
  • $5,297 for golf club membership fees -  "Fore taxpayers!"
  • $2,500 for domestic limousine service (on top of having a government car at his disposal)
  • $12,000 car allowance
  • $5,998 for vehicle "operating costs
  • $1.09 for a newspaper
  • $1.79 for a bottle of water
  • $1.29 for a pack of chewing gum
But it was that pack of chewing gum which enraged the public ultimately breaking the camel's back. His reply? "I am entitled to my entitlements." Thus was born "Dingwalled." But his taxpayer legacy lives on:
  • $500,000 severance
  • $77,219 annual indexed pension (estimated)
  • $1,905,890 Member of Parliament pension benefits to aged 75 (estimated)
He is 62-years old so you can count on paying for a lot more years. The above figures were sourced from The Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Fast forward .....

"Leslie-ed?"

Andrew Leslie's six block move down the street costing taxpayers $72,000 has brought back memories of "Dingwallism." Yes he is correct in saying he did not break any rules but was his judgment very smart? Presumably, at the time he knew he would be a Liberal candidate in an Ottawa riding. Did he not perceive that in this age of expense scandals the social and traditional media are focusing on these types of situations? Do you think voters in the Ottawa-Orleans riding will be impressed? What would their reaction be had it come out he foregone half the amount to save the public purse renting a U-Haul and calling upon his military buddies to move his belongings for a box of beer.

Mr. Leslie is scheduled to address the Liberal convention as a "star candidate." What will he say, if anything, about his pricey move? Originally, Liberal Senator Romeo Delair was to introduce him but since he was kicked out of the party's caucus he's now an independent so how will that embarrassment be reconciled?

Finally, a kick in the slats and cojones to the Department of National Defence. Did the Auditor General of Canada not point out in a 2006 audit its relocation expenses program was too rich and should be revisited lest it cause future embarrassment? DND's response? Do nothing. According to a recent Global News investigation, here's a list of the 21 generals, many of whom are retired, who moved within the same city over the past five years and charged it to the taxpayer.

Same city moves
  1. Lieutenant Gen Leslie (Ottawa to Ottawa) $72,225.86
  2. Major Gen Day (Ottawa to Ottawa) $59,627.82
  3. Rear Admiral Greenwood (Victoria to Victoria) $43,328.24
  4. Brigadier General Rochette (Ottawa to Ottawa) $40,012.75
  5. Lieutenant General Lucas (Ottawa to Ottawa) $38,970.68
  6. Brigadier General Bigelow (Comox to Comox) $35,783.57
  7. Brigadier General Ward (Ottawa to Ottawa) $25,928.41
  8. Brigadier General Corbould (St. Albert to St. Albert) $25,506.47
  9. Brigadier General Cloutier (Ottawa to Ottawa) $24,608.46
  10. Brigadier General King (Ottawa to Ottawa) $20,272.66
  11. Brigadier General Labbe (Kingston to Kingston) $10,696.19
  12. Lieutenant Generak Arp (Kingston to Kingston) $6,805.39
  13. Major General Hines (St. Catherines to St. Catherines) $468.60
Near city moves
  1. Brigadier General Mclean (Ottawa to Greely) $35,164.34
  2. Brigadier General Bourque (Ottawa to Perth) $29,936.99
  3. Brigadier General Johnstone (Ottawa to Arnprior) $28,637.93
  4. Major General Benjamin (Ottawa to Cantley) $25,505.87
  5. Major General Gosselin (Kingston to Lombardy) $21,129.98
  6. Vice Admiral Jarvis (Ottawa to Ashton) $20,204.77
  7. Major General Blanchette (Ottawa to Val-Des-Monts) $17,450.33
  8. Brigadier General Chekan (Ottawa to Carp) $468.60
Grand Total = $582,733.96

Wonder how veterans who have suffered physical and/or mental injuries must feel when they see this? To add insult to injury, they're now being shuffled and herded through Service Canada like cattle so that the Harper government can same money to balance the budget on their backs. Shame!

Oh for sure Andrew Leslie you may have been shot at a few times but wasn't that a possibility of which you should have been aware when you joined the Canadian Forces? Besides, you've been handsomely compensated financially over the years. You may be a seasoned military veteran but politically you're a neophyte. Wrapping yourself in the Canadian flag just won't cut it any more with taxpayers totally ....ed off with the senate scanda.. BTW, good luck with your speech voters will be watching.

So you see boys and girls, that's the new mantra among senior bureaucrats, elected and appointed politicians when their expenses are called into question, "I was only following the rules" and sadly they're correct. The system has far too many loopholes.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
Auditor probing moving-expenses program

Steven Chase
Thursday, February 20, 2014

Andrew Leslie is shown in Toronto on October 27, 2010. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

Canada’s spending watchdog is probing the controversial military relocation program that landed a former general-turned-Liberal Party adviser in hot water.

Andrew Leslie, now an adviser to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, claimed $72,000 in expenses for a move within Ottawa, from one home to another, shortly after he retired from the Canadian military. He was taking advantage of a Department of National Defence program that allows members of the Canadian Forces who have served for more than 20 years to expense one final move after they retire.

The Conservative government was quick to pounce on the Leslie claim when news of it broke last weekend. Tory defence Minister Rob Nicholson said the expense claim appeared to be “grossly excessive” and announced Ottawa would examine the matter.

It turns out the Office of the Auditor-General is already examining the Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Program as part of a review of government-wide moving services that is being released in both a spring 2014 report and later a fall 2014 report.

Ghislain Desjardins, a Spokesman for the Auditor-General, said the audit is focusing on the Integrated Relocation Program contract, awarded in 2009 to Brookfield Global Relocation Services. He couldn’t say when the audit began but noted it usually takes about 18 months to complete a performance audit. This contract has come under criticism by opposition MPs.

“As part of our planning process, we try to focus in on areas of higher risk and interest to Parliament and Canadians. This was one such area,” Mr. Desjardins said.

The Auditor-General's office looked into the program in 2006.

Mr. Leslie will be in the public spotlight Friday when he speaks at the Liberal Party’s convention in Montreal.

The former top soldier has defended the claim saying in a statement earlier this week that he was offered and accepted a standard benefit available to Forces personnel retiring after 20 or more years of service. He said his family “After moving homes 18 times in the service of my country, I was glad to make a new house in Ottawa our new, permanent home,” he said in the statement.

“Each step of the process is overseen by a third-party supplier, and independent approvals for every expenditure are required, as directed by the Treasury Board of Canada. Costs are paid directly to the suppliers (real estate agents, movers etc.) by the Department of National Defence.”

Mr. Leslie, who retired as a Lieutenant-General, once led Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.

The RCMP has stricter controls on moves. Its policy stipulates that a retiring member must move at least 40 kilometres away to be eligible for reimbursement of moving expenses. An exception is made for former members who were previously living in government-provided accommodation.

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