Liberals To Launch New Bid For MP Expense Disclosure

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The Liberals are getting ready to launch a fresh bid to force MPs to publicly disclose all taxpayer-funded travel and hospitality expenses — and they want the House of Commons to take over the job of posting the details.

On Tuesday, the party will put forward an opposition motion calling on the Board of Internal Economy to "instruct the non-partisan professional administrative staff of the House of Commons" to post "all travel expenses incurred under the travel point system," as well as hospitality expenses, "in a manner similar to the guidelines used by the government for proactive disclosure of ministerial expenses." 

Last spring, the Liberals attempted to garner all-party support for a similar proposal. Despite having the backing of the government, however, the gambit was thwarted after failing to secure the necessary unanimous consent.

Since then, both the Liberals and the Conservatives have implemented voluntary disclosure systems within their respective caucuses, leaving the New Democrats as the only recognized caucus that hasn't yet adopted a similar practice.

(In fact, the Liberal-drafted proposal takes pains to point that out in a preamble that notes "the majority of parties have already begun disclosing the travel and hospitality expenses of their members." )

The motion is scheduled to hit the House floor for debate on Tuesday, and could go to a vote as early as that same evening.

At time of publication, neither the government nor the New Democrats will say whether they intend to support it.

For their party, the New Democrats have repeatedly pushed for the secretive Board of Internal Economy to be scrapped entirely in favour of an independent, arms-length body.

Liberals get a bonus day

Meanwhile, the very fact that the Liberals are in charge of setting tomorrow's House agenda marks a minor procedural victory for the sharp-eyed number-crunchers in House Leader Dominic LeBlanc's office, who recently convinced their Commons colleagues to give them an additional opposition day, based on the two seats added to the Liberal roster since the 2011 election and the three seats shed by the New Democrats.

Like the number of seats on committee and speaking slots in question period, the 22 supply days allotted to the opposition under the financial cycle are divvied up according to seat percentages.

In 2012, then-New Democrat Lise St-Denis crossed the floor to the Liberals, which boosted their caucus from 34 to 35 MPs, with a 36th MP joining the roster in 2013 after Yvonne Jones snagged the Labrador seat previously held by Conservative MP Peter Penashue. 

Over the same period of time, the New Democrats lost two other MPs: Bruce Hyer, who left caucus to to sit as an independent in 2012, ultimately switching his allegiance to the Green Party late last year; and Claude Patry, who somewhat unexpectedly decided to throw his parliamentary lot in with the Bloc Québécois in 2013.

Under the rejigged formula, the Liberals will now get to take temporary control of the House agenda for 6 of the 22 days allotted under the supply cycle, with the remaining 17 days reserved for the New Democrats.

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