MP’s expenses drop $20,000

the annual-expense report filed by Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod

By Jeremy Deutsch

Kamloops This Week

It’s never cheap to be a federal politician in B.C. — and the annual-expense report filed by Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod is proof.

Last year, Conservative MP Cathy McLeod spent $121,000 to travel to and from Ottawa.

Though her travel costs did rise by $12,000, McLeod’s overall expenses as an MP dropped by $20,000.

According to the individual member’s expenditures report, released by the Board of Internal Economy, McLeod spent $492,000 in the 2010 fiscal year to do her work as an MP.

She spent $512,000 the previous year.

The report breaks the expenses into six categories, from travel and printing to advertising and employee salaries.

In 2010, McLeod spent $226,145 on employee salaries and service contracts.

She spent $2,183 on hospitality and events, $23,462 on advertising and $34,020 on mailing out information to homes in her riding.

That figure also dropped from the $46,412 she spent on mail-outs the previous year.

As for her offices, McLeod spent $30,367 on office leases and insurance, $1,319 on furniture, $11,236 on telecommunication services and $5,082 on materials and office supplies.

McLeod said she has focused on trying to watch her spending, noting the decrease is in recognition of the belt-tightening in all sectors of government.

As for her travel expenses, McLeod noted trips to the Interior of B.C. are among the most expensive in Canada.

Federal politicians across Canada came under fire last year after fighting a request by then-auditor-general Sheila Fraser to perform a detailed audit on MP and senator expenses.

After pressure from the public, MPs relented, giving the auditor general access to the expenses.

However, the report does not give specific details of items, or receipts, for where the money was spent.

McLeod said she is satisfied with the expense-reporting format, noting she posts the results on her website.

“Which most people indicate they appreciate,” she said.

Besides running an MP’s office, McLeod also had to run a campaign for re-election.

According to Elections Canada’s campaign-financing summary for the riding, McLeod spent $95,449 on the May election, outpacing her last campaign in 2008, when she  spent $82,161.

McLeod won the riding decisively, picking up 52 per cent of the popular vote on her way to a second term in Ottawa.

The incumbent MP received $23,700 in campaign contributions, equaling the amount from 2008.

McLeod’s list of more than two-dozen contributors includes former Liberal supporter Gur Singh and former Progressive Conservative candidate Don Cameron, who each donated $1,100.

She was also given $77,000 from the Conservative party to help finance her campaign.

That figure was also an increase from the $54,860 she received from her party during her first election.

McLeod is the second candidate to file campaign returns, behind Green Party candidate Donovan Cavers.

Cavers ran a frugal campaign, spending just $1,539 in the last election and finishing third.

The total limit for federal election spending per candidate is $111,000.

NDP candidate Michael Crawford and Liberal candidate Murray Todd have yet to file their returns.