Friday, July 03, 2009

How say you Member of Parliament?

Good Day Readers:

Very interesting article from today's Wall Street Journal. It seems the House of Representatives in the United States is preparing to post online details of its Member expenses. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is liberally quoted - ironic given the recent findings of conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch regarding her generous use of military aircraft.
So got to thinking (Always dangerous!) why not the same for Canadian Members of Parliament of which there are 308 last year accounting for $128 million worth of expenses or about $414 thousand each. A couple weeks ago when approached by a Toronto Star reporter only 4 voluntarily offered the information. Ours was not one.

This information could be centralized on the parliamentary webpage ( or individually on an MP's site so constituents had access and could ask questions.

Why stop there? Any organization receiving taxpay funding should be required to do the same. But one example, the Manitoba Metis Federation ( which receives approximately $25 million annually in taxpayer money.

What is its President David Chartrand's salary - anyone know?
How much in taxpayer dollars has the MMF paid Winnipeg lawyer Murray Norman Trachtenberg (; to sue the now defunct for alleged defamation - anyone know? How much are Federation Provincial Board of Directors paid in per diems for meetings - anyone know? Travel expenses - anyone know? None of this is available to taxpayers and it should be!

How say you Member of Parliament?

Clare L. Pieuk
July 3, 2009
House Delays Web Posting Of Expenses

WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress said Thursday that details of their expense claims wouldn't be posted online before mid-November at the earliest -- two and a half months later than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they would be published in an electronic format for the first time.

Ms. Pelosi set an August 31 deadline for putting information about expenses claimed by members of the House of Representatives on the Internet, in an announcement reversing a longstanding policy of providing the information only in books totaling about 12,000 pages a year. The Senate has not announced any plans to put its expenses claims online.

The speaker's announcement last month followed a series of Wall Street Journal articles on bonus payments and expense claims for luxury cars and high-end technology made by congressional offices.

The committee said that the first claims to be posted online would cover the third quarter of 2009, and would appear "as soon as possible" after that period ends September 30. Compiling information about the claims usually takes about six weeks. It wasn't clear whether there would be additional delays beyond that.

Kyle Anderson, a spokesman for the committee, said that a specific date for the appearance of the claims wasn't available, but that "there's a lot of energy around fulfilling the obligation to get it done as soon as possible."

As a result of the delay, the first claims to be posted online will cover a period in which lawmakers were aware that their expenses would be made public in this way.

One of the technical requirements mentioned in the statement was server demand -- the ability of House computer systems to meet "what is expected to be an enormous online interest" in the publication of the claims. The statement said that although servers had recently been upgraded, the technology needed to be tested to ensure that the network could handle a sudden surge of traffic.

The other issue identified was support. The committee said congressional offices needed time to "refamiliarize" themselves with the way the expense-claims summaries were set out, in order to respond to emails and calls to their offices about them.

Write to Louise Radnofsky at
Pelosi Made Repeated Requests for Military Aircraft, Documents Show: Representatives for Judicial Watch, which obtained e-mails and other documents showing the requests, say House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has treated the Air Force as her "personal airline."
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly requested military aircraft to shuttle her and her colleagues and family around the country, according to a new report from a conservative watchdog group.

Representatives for Judicial Watch, which obtained e-mails and other documents from a Freedom of Information request, said the correspondence shows Pelosi has abused the system in place to accommodate congressional leaders and treated the Air Force as her "personal airline."

Pelosi's office disputed the claim, pointing to White House policy enacted after the September 11 attacks allowing for the House speaker to travel to his or her congressional district via military aircraft whenever possible for security reasons. Her office said she typically uses the same kind of aircraft used by her predecessor, Dennis Hastert.

But Judicial Watch said that Pelosi was notorious for making special demands for high-end aircraft, lodging last-minute cancellations and racking up additional expenses for the military.

The e-mails showed repeated attempts by Pelosi aides to request aircraft, sometimes aggressively, and by Department of Defense officials to accommodate them.

"I think that's above and beyond what other members of Congress are doing and what is expected of our elected officials," said Jenny Small, a researcher with the group.

In one e-mail, aide Kay King complained to the military that they had not made available any aircraft the House speaker wanted for Memorial Day recess.

"It is my understanding there are NO G5s available for the House during the Memorial Day recess. This is totally unacceptable ... The Speaker will want to know where the planes are," King wrote.

In another, when told a certain type of aircraft would not be available, King wrote: "This is not good news, and we will have some very disappointed folks, as well as a very upset Speaker."

Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said the report seemed to be based on only "a few e-mails," and defended the requests for military aircraft for her colleagues as a "function of the speaker's office." Elshami said at least one of the requests in the above e-mails referenced requests made for other members.

Pelosi's office noted that the Department of Defense ultimately makes all decisions on use of military aircraft for travel, and that Pelosi is "extraordinarily appreciative" of the department's effort to accommodate Congress.


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