Although Senate rules don't require the posting of detailed expenses online, Conservative Senator Bob Runciman has become the second senator to put all of his Senate-related expenditures on his website.
The first was Conservative Senator Doug Black, who started posting his expenses in January, the same month he was appointed to the Senate.
Runciman, a member of the Ontario provincial legislature for 29 years and a former solicitor general in the Mike Harris government, was appointed to the Senate in 2010.
Reached by phone Monday, Runciman said, "I think the fact that we are appointed and not elected, we should set the gold standard in terms of transparency and in reporting how we're using taxpayers' dollars."
Runciman doesn't scan receipts and post them, as Green Party Leader Elizabeth May does when she puts her expenses online, but said, "If there's a concern about any specific item, then we'll provide the information."
He added, "I'm not sure I'm going to be telling people who I phoned, or necessarily breaking down ... for instance [the fact that] I bought a dozen pencils this weeks, or a few notepads, that sort of thing.''
Per diems listed on website
Runciman, who lives in Brockville, Ont., qualifies as an out-of-town senator who can charge per diems for daily meal costs when he's in Ottawa on Senate business.
In June, for instance, he charged $382.48 in per diems, an amount that includes a partial per diem for what must have been an abbreviated Senate business day, and another partial per diem for work in his Senate office.
Runciman stays in hotels while he's in Ottawa working for the Senate. In June he spent $1,025.02 on hotel bills.
The cost for driving between Brockville and Ottawa in June was $230.84, and the senator took a few taxis for a cost of $30.72
Runciman also charged gas mileage to attend a funeral in Westport, Ont., at a cost of $69.06. The funeral was for Bill Thake who spent 52 years in municipal politics, 44 of them as mayor of Westport. Senate rules say travel may be claimed for "funerals of dignitaries, senior government officials, parliamentary colleagues, and other VIPs."
Liberals will post soon
Liberal MPs and senators are expected to start proactively posting their expenses soon, using the template drawn up for cabinet ministers who post their travel and hospitality costs every month.
However, the Liberals' postings won't be as detailed as the expenses that Runciman and Black, as well as May, list on their own websites.
In June, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau outlined his plan for his caucus to post expenses, but it's taken some time to collect expense information on all Liberal MPs and senators, and post them all at once. The postings are expected to appear this month.
"I'm surprised the Liberals aren't up and running already," Runciman said, adding,"I don't see why it's that complicated."
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