05/02/2013 04:30 EDT | Updated 07/02/2013 05:12 EDT

Review rules on housing allowances for Nova Scotia politicians: opposition

HALIFAX - Both of Nova Scotia's opposition leaders say they favour an independent review of rules on how far politicians must live from the legislature before receiving allowances for rental accomodations.

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said Thursday that a rule allowing members of the legislature to receive a $1,470 monthly allowance if they live more than 40 kilometres from the legislature makes no sense in an age of twinned highways.

"I think you need to look at what does constitute an outside member and whether the allowance is the right one," said McNeil.

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie said the 40-kilometre rule came from the "horse and buggy age" and should be updated.

He also repeated his call for citizen oversight of how legislature members are paid.

"All along I've been saying MLAs shouldn't be determining these things. That's how the House of Assembly gets into these kinds of messes."

Premier Darrell Dexter said he hasn't given the matter much thought.

"I haven't done any kind of analysis of what an appropriate cut off would be," he said, referring to the 40-kilometre distance rule.

However, Dexter said setting a new kilometre limit might be something an independent reviewer could look at.

Meanwhile, the auditor general says he's going to begin a review of the living allowance paid to Liberal member Michel Samson.

Lapointe is acting at the request of legislature Speaker Gordie Gosse, who was asked by Samson to conduct a review after questions were raised whether the house he rents in Halifax is his family's primary residence.

Gosse ruled that Samson's family lives in Halifax and that he should not receive the $1,470 monthly allowance.

Samson represents a riding in Cape Breton.

Gosse said he referred the matter to the auditor general because Samson objected publicly to his ruling.

Lapointe said he couldn't provide a precise date for when his review will be completed.