Former N.S. politician says spending scandal has made life horrible for family

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX - Len Goucher says Nova Scotia's political spending scandal has made life "horrible" for his family over the past few days.
The former Tory cabinet minister said television camera crews "scared the hell" out of his grandchildren Wednesday. The children were afraid to leave the home, he said Thursday.
Looking tired and stressed, Goucher spoke to a reporter from the Halifax Chronicle Herald through a partly open door at his Halifax-area home.
According to the provincial auditor general, the former Conservative member of the legislature spent $43,982 in his three years in the legislature. That's the most of any member.
The purchases included 11 computers, 12 printers and four video recorders between 2006 and 2009.
Goucher said some information about his purchases in auditor general Jacques Lapointe's report, released Feb. 3, is incorrect. He wouldn't elaborate, except to mention a $113.99 Xbox game called Dance Dance Revolution Universe that was listed in the report.
He said he wouldn't comment further because he hasn't been in touch with the auditor general's office.
Goucher was defeated in the Bedford-Birch Cove riding in the June provincial election.
Lapointe's audit covered a three-year period from July 2006 to last June. He said there were "serious weaknesses" in the system for member expenses.
He listed some inappropriate expenditures that should be recouped by the Speaker's Office, plus a number of items that seemed to be "outside the norm" and that a reasonable person would consider excessive.
A Facebook petition has been created to protest the spending. As of Thursday afternoon, 658 people had joined the Petition for Full Investigation/Audit Nova Scotia MLA Expenses.
"Everybody on here, please go to Graham Steele's website and write a letter demanding he does NOT raise the HST until this mess is cleared up and all these outrageous expenses are outlawed once and for all," one man said on the website's message board.
"Anybody else wondering why MLAs need cameras or TVs in the first place?" another asked. "I can understand printers and computers. Not a number of them. Most hard-working people get along fine with one computer for years."
Chris d'Entremont, the Tory member for Argyle, has bought six computers in the past three years. In an interview Thursday, he said one broke down and another he wasn't using was donated to a museum in Wedgeport.
As for the remaining four, d'Entremont said he uses a computer at home and takes a laptop on the road. He uses another computer at his office and the fourth is used by his office secretary.
"I wouldn't call myself a techie, but I like having my email with me, I travel with my laptop," said d'Entremont, who was health minister in the Tory government. "I'll send emails from home and my secretary needs one when I'm in Halifax."
When it was suggested that one laptop could be used at home, as well as on the road, he said" "It's hard to have an iMac on the road. ... I think my spending is acceptable for the kind of operation I run."
Some politicians bought items during the election campaign or after announcing they wouldn't run again. Former Tory Brooke Taylor falls into the last category. He bought a $770 digital camera on May 25, even though he wasn't reoffering.
"I gave it to somebody that you could say was in need," he said. Thursday. "There's no question about that, (they were) unemployed and I've disposed of nearly everything else."
He was asked how it could be appropriate to use public money to buy a camera when he was leaving politics.
"Look, you could say that was questionable, I won't deny that, but I'm not going to get into trying to slice and dice that," he said.
Another former Tory and cabinet minister, Jamie Muir of Truro-Bible Hill, has a Dec. 31, 2008, invoice for a TV costing $1,048.87. That was two days after he announced he wouldn't run in the next election.
He said he has kept the TV in storage and has reimbursed taxpayers for the full amount. He plans to keep it.

Organizations: Tory, Halifax Chronicle Herald, Full Investigation/Audit Nova Scotia MLA Expenses

Geographic location: HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Wedgeport

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Recent comments

  • Larry
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    BOO HOO! Old Len just can't keep from lying. It's obvious that it was him that didn't want to leave the house, not the children. My kids have never had nightmares about cameras, cameras just aren't that scary. If you were still in politics Len, maybe you could buy those cameras!

  • Truth
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    Are you needy, are you unemployed? Here's a $770 digital camera for you. Are these idiots for real? Do you they actually think before they speak. You give someone in need, food or even clothing, not a digital camera.

    The people in this province have been too complacent for far too long. These politicians should be run out of office. You can't trust any of them.

  • Stewie
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    He has made life horrible for himself. Dont blame the media. The policy is vague is not an excuse to but things for your home with public $. In my mind, that's stealing. And what makes Brooke Taylor think it is OK to spend tax payer $ on a camera he intends to give to someone needy? Buy some perishable food and give it to the foodbank, or pay my escalating property taxes. This whole thing is beyond a farce.

  • Bazzy
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    I feel for Len Goucher's family it must be unsettling. In saying this though I do not feel sorry for Len Coucher himself. This MLA abused his power like the other MLA's , bought articles on the tax payers ticket and never gave a second thought to it. Oh that is right some of them are paying back the money, what a great credit line!!

    In Lapointes audit he identifies that there has been serious weakness in the system regarding allowable expense claims for MLA's. I ask then, why are you not fixing it? Do we as taxpayers not pay your salary also?

    In this day and age of fiscal restraint, we have no money for the new Hospital in Truro, no money for medical or education but we have money for MLA's to waste. As a taxpayer I am tired of this foolishness. I am tired of our taxes being raised and services reduced!!!!!

  • rob
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    I have never heard so much back peddling from politicians in all my life. Unbelievable!!!

  • Tax
    March 01, 2010 - 14:39

    If you're in need or unemployed, please forward your names to me, and I'll give them to your local MLA. In return, expect a $770 digital camera to help with your hardships. Perhaps you can take the camera to your local pawn shop and cash it in for $25-30 to help put some food on your table.

    Thank you.