Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.
Friday, March 28, 2014
By Michael J Morris
Although the expenses of politicians in Canada at all levels of government have dominated the news for over a year now, Cranbrook city council at a December 2013 regular meeting declined to delete a section of its policy and procedures manual covering spousal/partner travel and expense costs.
Perhaps, given the most recent revelations involving BC Liberal MPP Linda Reid, who is also the Speaker of the British Columbia legislature and BCNDP MP Jenny Kwan, Cranbrook council will revisit its policy.
In Reid's case she has just recently repaid over $5,500, the cost of her husband's flight to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in South Africa, which had originally been paid by BC taxpayers.
Reid was attending in her capacity as speaker, in comments on the situation, noting that "It is important work on behalf of democracy."
Maybe so, but working on behalf of democracy also means minding the public purse responsibly.
In Kwan's case, she recently repaid $35,000 to the Portland Hotel Society, an agency that provides health and social services, housing, and drug treatment in Vancouver's notorious Lower East Side. It is part of Kwan's riding and apparently she has a long connection with the society.
An audit discovered that the society had paid expenses for a Kwan family trip to Europe and another to Disneyland.
No matter that these two politicians, along with the continuing investigation into members of the Senate of Canada involving expenses, the citizens of this province who are also Canadian citizens, deserve better from those they elect to public office at all levels.
Which brings us back to Cranbrook.
Councillor Sharon Cross introduced a motion at the December council meeting to amend Policy Number 40-301 of the city's policy and procedures manual titled travel expense claims to amend it by deleting a paragraph which reads "Spousal/partner travel and event costs shall be reimbursed upon approval of the Mayor for members of council, volunteers and the CAO"
and "Spousal/partner travel and event costs shall be reimbursed for city personnel upon approval of the CAO."
Unbelievably, in 2014, given the uproar over travel and expense claims by politicians, council chose not to support the motion by Councillor Cross, to delete the section. Apparently, there have been no requests during the term of this council for spousal/partner travel and event costs reimbursement, but it seems like council wanted to keep the policy in place just in case.
Or maybe they thought that Cranbook politicians live in splendid isolation from the rest of Canada
Cranbrook council would show it gets the message that public expectations are that the gravy train on travel costs by politicians must end by revisiting this policy and deleting that section. Otherwise, it is fair question to ask those who seek re-election later this year, "Why not delete it?" My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
DISCLOSURE: Sharon Cross and I have been personal friends for almost 25 years, but in no way has she influenced me in any way in the writing of this column. In 50 years of journalism, I have strived to follow the words of Dennis Adkin, editor of the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, that a good reporter has "no friends and no enemies." Just tell the story.