By Darrell Cole TC Media
OTTAWA – Scott Armstrong has joined a growing list of federal MPs who have begun posting their expenses online.
“We’re going to be doing more proactive disclosure for all members of parliament in 2014. Most Liberal and Conservative MPs are being proactive and have already begun posting information on our websites,” the Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley MP said. “I’ve begun posting monthly information on my hospitality and travel expenses.”
Armstrong said he plans to update his expenses monthly at http://scottarmstrongmp.ca.
Prior to this, all MPs have had their expenses posted once a year on the parliamentary website. Beginning in the next budget year, in April, that information will be more detailed and posted more often.
Armstrong said Canadians are asking more questions about the expenses of their elected officials, especially in light of the ongoing scandal in the Senate. He said posting his expenses will help inform constituents of the cost of travel back and forth to Ottawa and what it cost to drive around the riding.
“The only caution is it’s hard to compare one MP to another because every riding is different and their duties are different,” Armstrong said. “My duties as parliamentary secretary are different than Greg Kerr, who is a backbencher and committee chair. Sometimes I’m required to be Ottawa more so my travel expenses would be higher than his. Peter MacKay’s would be different than mine because he’s a minister.”
Posting the information is all about increased openness and transparency in government while it also makes MPs more accountable for how they use taxpayers’ money, says Armstrong.
“I wanted to be one of the first MPs to do this because we have all seen what happened provincially in Nova Scotia when people submit suspect expenses,” Armstrong said. “More transparency should help increase confidence in how we’re spending people’s money.”
Armstrong said expenses are tightly controlled and once MPs spend their budget they don’t receive any additional funding. As well, he added, there are tight controls with accepted expenses and receipts are required.
Earlier this year, figures released by the Board of Internal Economy showed Armstrong’s expenses to be the fourth lowest among Nova Scotia MPs. Armstrong spent $389,259 during the 2012-13 fiscal year – compared to $393,308 last year.