Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Any Exuse to Take a Shot at Good Fathers: Who Needs Them Anyway?

CTV has this story about Russ Hiebert, a conservative MP with a young family from BC, who has higher than average travel expenses because he brings his wife and two young daughters to Ottawa with him when Parliament is sitting.
Russ Hiebert, the B.C. Member of Parliament elected on a promise to fight government waste, is defending his use of taxpayer dollars to fly his family to and from Ottawa during the six months Parliament is in session.

The Conservative MP for South Surrey – White Rock – Cloverdale racked up $637,093 on his expense account for the 2008-2009 fiscal year – more than $200,000 more than the national average.

The former lawyer spent $214,360 for return trips for himself and his family between Ottawa and his home in Cloverdale, B.C. The average MP spends $87,415.

Hiebert told CTV News he was actively encouraged to travel with his family by his peers and he believes he is the only MP with a young family who has to travel a long distance.

"Because my wife and I made a commitment to keep our family together, that means my wife and kids come with me when the house is in session," Hiebert said.

The MP insists his spending is within the limits set forth by the House of Commons.

"They allow for MPs, all MPs, to bring a spouse and dependent children to Ottawa," he said.

"As far as I can tell, most MPs take advantage of that opportunity because they recognize how important it is."

But some of Hiebert's constituents don't feel that he deserves that opportunity.

"With the economy the way it is, you shouldn't be able to make those kinds of expenditures," said Ken Lloydsmith.

"Why does he have to fly with his family?" asked Norma Sproston.

The "central budget" of the House of Commons includes 64 return trips a year for each MP to travel between their constituency and Ottawa, as well as covering meals and incidental expenses.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says the auditor general needs to examine whether the spending guidelines are too lax.

"If you have a regular job at a regular company and you want your family or children to travel with you, you pay for it out of your own pocket not out of the company pocket," said Scott Hennig.

What is with these people? Why is Russ Hiebert not a hero and role model as an example of a caring father in a society in which so many children have dead beat losers as absentee fathers? Let's probe a bit deeper here.

First, Hiebert is a Conservative so that is one strike against him with the mainstream media. It is hard not to be suspicious right away.

Second, he lives in BC and the complaint is that his $214,360 is higher than the national average of $87,415.00. I'm surprised his total is so low, considering how far away from Ottawa he lives. After all, many MP's live so close to Ottawa they wouldn't even need to fly home and their expenses figure into the national average.

Third, perhaps the subtext here is that there is something wrong with a man not being willing to sacrifice his family for his career. Or perhaps the idea that his wife is not busy with her own career irritates some people. Whatever the real issue, it is difficult to see why an MP who has broken no rules and has simply tried to be a good father should get beat up by the media like this. (Some of the comments in the comment section after the story were far worse thant he story itself, which suggests that the story was designed to provoke without going too far explicitly.)

Ezra Levant has a great response entitled: "Let's Have a Parliament with Only Childless Toronto MPs." Yep, that would be just dandy. It would get rid of all those pesky social conservatives and representatives of the far flung outposts of civilization like the Lower Mainland.

1 comment:

Peter W. Dunn said...

It doesn't even compare to Nancy Pelosi's travel abuses, but that's another country. I agree with you. They attacked Sarah Palin similarly, even though her expenses were below Governor Murkowski, who didn't have a young family.