A Conservative leadership hopeful aims to bust up what he sees as another “cartel” by forcing federal officials to use Uber and other ride-sharing services.
Quebec MP Maxime Bernier, who has sparked headlines with a campaign built around shrinking the size and scope of the federal government, is irked by the number of times bureaucrats call taxis between meetings.
Maxime Bernier arrives outside the offices of the Conservative party in Ottawa in April. (Photo: Justin Tang/Canadian Press)
Bernier took to Facebook Tuesday to say that the controversy surrounding the moving expenses of top Liberal staffers “pales in comparison to the real scandal” in Ottawa — the $17 million that federal departments spent on cab rides in the first seven months of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.
Bernier is pouncing on figures tabled in the House of Commons late last month. Postmedia reported at the time, however, that while that total includes the costs of transporting various staffers, at least $6.7 million was spent on travel for patients under Health Canada’s Non-Insured Health Benefits Program.
Still, Bernier says government officials get “taxi chits like candy,” despite cheaper ways to travel.
“Obviously government workers need to get to and from meetings,” Bernier wrote Tuesday. “But like most parts of the government, innovation has been ignored.”
The MP says the average Uber trip in Ottawa is 44 per cent cheaper than the same route by cab.
“Spending 44% more of taxpayer dollars than is necessary is simply unacceptable,” he wrote.
Bernier's big ideas
Tory MP Alex Nuttall, the Opposition's critic for the new sharing economy, is supporting Bernier.
It’s perhaps not Bernier’s boldest or most controversial policy position to date.Since joining the Tory leadership race in April, the former cabinet minister has called for:
- An end to Canada’s supply management system for dairy and poultry
- The privatization of Canada Post and major airports
- The deregulation of the telecom industry
- More freedom for maple syrup producers to sell their products.
Just last week, Bernier said he would scrap some of the boutique tax credits championed by former prime minister Stephen Harper to instead cut income taxes for most Canadians. Bernier’s plan would see those earning between $15,000 and $100,000 taxed at a rate of 15 per cent — currently the lowest rate for those earning up to $45,282.
He is one of seven official candidates in the Tory leadership race, along with Ontario MPs Kellie Leitch, Tony Clement, and Michael Chong; Saskatchewan MPs Andrew Scheer and Brad Trost; and Alberta MP Deepak Obhrai.
With a file from The Canadian Press