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Government travel

Just a short note to express my displeasure in seeing a whole lot of attention being paid to what are really fairly reasonable travel expenses. 

I get that there needs to be oversight and that MPs need to be conscious and prudent because they are, after all, expensing public dollars. I’m a public servant and have travelled fairly extensively over my 18 year career.

For example, Deepak Obhrai, Conservative MP for Calgary East, expensed $3,514.05 for two trips from Calgary to Ottawa and one from Ottawa to Calgary.

Really, that’s unreasonable?

Sounds about right to me.

So I checked and yeah, you could buy those three trips in economy at about $500 a pop for a total of about $1500… Less than half the cost of what was expensed.

OK. But let me qualify this: I set a departure date of ten days from now and a one week stay. What people outside government may not understand is that we in the PS have to use a centralized booking system. This, in theory, is supposed to save money. However, the reality is that travel requests are triaged so that the requests that are the most imminent are those that get booked first. So booking the flight 10 days in advance? That almost never happens. It is usually 48-72 hours before the departure date and hence, prices are higher.

And yes, I checked that too and the cost of the flights would have been $780 apiece for a total of about $2300… only $1200 in total less than what was expensed.

And these were for economy class seats. I for one, wouldn’t begrudge a senior (or junior) member of government flying business class for a flight of this length. Hops between YOW and YYZ? No. But I’d like my MP to use their travel time wisely and get some work done on these flights…. which is next to impossible in economy.

Bottom line – if we are going to highlight and criticize MP expenses, and we should, then let’s focus on the big stuff and not nitpick items that are beyond the pol’s power to control or are really so minor as to be immaterial.


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