The Conservatives started a fire when they accused Gerald Butts and Katie Telford of sticking taxpayers with exorbitant costs for moving from Toronto to Ottawa. Now they're caught in their own backdraft. Michael Harris writes:
The Conservative Opposition had fun with the PMO expense scandal until the issue bit them in the ass. Tory MP and leadership candidate, Brad Trost, led the charge against his own party’s hypocrisy. Trost went on Twitter to demand that Guy Giorno, one of former PM Harper’s chiefs of staff, follow the lead of Butts and Telford by repaying part of his estimated $93,000 move from Toronto to Ottawa. Again, it was not because Giorno had done anything unethical or illegal; it was just that Trost thought Canadians were being sucked dry by people, well, who believed that they were entitled their entitlements.
And then Rona Ambrose came under scrutiny:
Ambrose charged the public $8,000 in condo rent and a further $869 for a three-night stay in an Ottawa hotel, a bill made necessary because Stornoway was apparently not ready for her to occupy. The Huffington Post reported that the bulk of these expenses were incurred from January to March 2016 — after she had moved into her official residence.
The CPC and Ambrose have since insisted that the interim leader did not claim expenses for accommodation while living rent-free at Stornoway. The Tory damage control line was that all of the expenses claimed by Ambrose were incurred before she moved to the official residence and were therefore admissible under the rules.
But they miss the point that Trost seems to have grasped: the issue for Canadians is not only a question of regulatory compliance, but of fairness. Why should the public have to pay for breaking the lease on her $2000 a month condo when Ambrose is making a quarter of a million dollars a year in publicly financed salary and moving into a taxpayer-funded mansion? What possible difference does it make to the average Joe and Jane whether Ambrose — the interim leader of the opposition — is resident in a Rockcliffe mansion or living out her condo lease that was perfectly fine when she was a cabinet minister?
The solution is to have the Auditor General look at MPs' expenses -- as he examined Senators' expenses.
But, once again, the Conservatives have been hogtied by their own hypocrisy.