POLITICS

New Brunswick government could back bill to release politicians' expenses

03/19/2014 01:21 EDT | Updated 05/19/2014 05:59 EDT
FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's deputy premier says the government supports an Opposition bill that would see the expenses of all legislature members made public, but some changes are needed to the legislation first.

Paul Robichaud said Wednesday that some of the wording in the Liberal party's Bill 14 would have to be changed, but otherwise the government supports it.

"In principle, we are in favour of Bill 14," he said.

The bill would require expenses to be compiled in quarterly reports and posted on the legislature's website.

The reports would be prepared by the finance minister, but Robichaud says the expenses of members are handled by the legislative assembly, not the minister, so that wording would have to be changed.

Liberal Leader Brian Gallant said he is open to any changes suggested by the government as long as it leads to the release of all members' expenses.

"When we shed light on expenses like that, studies show that people will spend a lot more prudently, they'll be a lot more cautious about what they spend taxpayers money on, and, of course, we'll be able to catch any improprieties or issues as soon as they are created," he said.

The bill was introduced in November.

The Liberals asked the government about the bill's status on Wednesday, a day after the province's legislative administration committee agreed to review all constituency allowance expense claims filed by Tory member Greg Davis since he was elected.

The Opposition has been calling on the government to reveal how Davis spent his constituency account funds after he fell behind paying office rent despite claiming his maximum constituency allowance allotment.

The Progressive Conservative party said last week that it had to cover $5,125 in rent for 2011-12 for Davis's office in his riding of Campbellton-Restigouche Centre.

A spokesman for the government said Davis later fell behind paying his rent again but did not say how much Davis owes.

An arrangement was made with the clerk's office to cover the most recent rent arrears, but details have not been released.

The committee says the review's findings will be made public after it meets Tuesday.