IN THE NEWS ~ Opening up the books is always a good idea

Opening up the books is always a good idea
OUR VIEW ~ Burnaby Now

Kudos to Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian for welcoming Auditor General Sheila Fraser's request to open up the expense account books for all MPs.

We applaud Julian for saying that even though he thinks Fraser's request is unnecessary, he believes taxpayers have the right to know exactly where all their money is being spent.

The issue exploded in Ottawa last week when the all-party nine-member board of internal economy rejected Fraser's request to audit MPs' expenses, using the rationale that her mandate doesn't extend to MPs.

The board said that because MPs already have some of the toughest rules regarding expenses, Fraser's time would be better spent looking at other areas.

But that's not good enough these days, simply because expense scandals have been all over the news.

In Great Britain, MPs were running for cover when the press found out that one of them had tried claiming moat-cleaning expenses. Closer to home, in Nova Scotia, one politician tried claiming a $738 espresso machine.

In times when every government dollar has to be spent wisely, those types of expenses are unacceptable.

If Fraser wants to look into possible misuse of money, she should be given a wide berth to see if any of our federal MPs are abusing the system. Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear.

Julian, a former financial administrator himself, knows that while audits are often painful, they are necessary, especially if it helps the public know that their money isn't being wasted.

We think the board of internal economy should reverse its stand and let Fraser do her job.

After all, she won't find any moat-cleaning expenses or espresso machines, will she?

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