MLA ad­mits mis­take …

Cape Breton Post - - news - tay­ers@cb­post.com/chayes@cb­post.com

“I don’t know if it’s some­thing at the end of the day where they’ll say it shouldn’t have been done, you’ll need to pay that back,” said Sam­son. If and when the amount is iden­ti­fied and re­quested, he added, “it will be com­ing out of my pocket.”

Dave Wil­son, Lib­eral MLA for Glace Bay, said he re­paid $400 last Novem­ber for per­sonal patio fur­ni­ture af­ter the au­di­tor gen­eral’s staff flagged his in­voice.

He said the re­ceipt was in­ad­ver­tently added to others for monthly ex­penses.

“There’s no sim­i­lar­ity be­tween me and an ac­coun­tant,” said Wil­son. “I’m not try­ing to blame any­one else. I sub­mit­ted it. It was my mis­take. This was an in­no­cent mis­take.”

He ad­mit­ted the mis­take looks bad, but added MLAs were all just fol­low­ing the rules.

“There is a cer­tain seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion that be­lieves we’re all crooks any­way,” Wil­son said, but “the MLAs I know fol­low the rules.”

Gordie Gosse, NDP MLA for Cape Bre­ton Nova and a mem­ber of the in­ter­nal econ­omy board, said even though he was not im­pli­cated in the au­di­tor gen­eral’s re­port, all MLAs are feel­ing the pres­sure.

“All 52 mem­bers of the leg­isla­tive assem­bly are go­ing to be painted with the same brush,” he said. “I went out to cof­fee to­day at Timmy’s and peo­ple were say­ing ‘Where’s your gen­er­a­tor, Gordie?’”

How­ever, he added, the re­port and the Speaker’s stated in­ten­tion of ac­cept­ing all the rec­om­men­da­tions in it of­fer an op­por­tu­nity for weak rules to be fixed.

Frank Cor­bett, NDP MLA for Cape Bre­ton Cen­tre and the prov­ince’s deputy premier, also was not among the MLAs whose ex­penses were flagged by the au­di­tor.

How­ever, he took some heat last year over sev­eral din­ner ex­penses he claimed just af­ter the NDP won the gen­eral elec­tion. Cor­bett said he has since re­paid $441 for one of the din­ner meet­ings that in­cluded six peo­ple at the Keg restau­rant in Hal­i­fax.

The din­ners were le­git­i­mate ex­penses, he said, but he de­cided the right thing was to pay back the money for one of the meet­ings.

“The group of peo­ple that were there, there was one per­son that I would say was not ap­pro­pri­ate to the meet­ing and I picked up ev­ery­one’s ex­penses, so I thought in ret­ro­spect I should pay the whole thing back,” Cor­bett said.

A Lib­eral cau­cus spokesman said Man­ning Mac­Don­ald, MLA for Cape Bre­ton South, was not among the politi­cians whose ex­penses were iden­ti­fied in the re­port.

In­terim Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Leader Karen Casey said four for­mer mem­bers of her party were flagged in the re­port, es­sen­tially clear­ing the sit­ting PC MLAs, but she doesn’t feel it’s her re­spon­si­bil­ity to name names, ac­cord­ing to The Cana­dian Press.

It’s not clear whether Rod­ney Mac­Don­ald, the for­mer Tory premier who rep­re­sented In­ver­ness, was one of those four for­mer PC mem­bers. He was re­port­edly in Ot­tawa, Thurs­day, and couldn’t be reached for com­ment.

Party spokesman Michael Kydd said only one cur­rent Tory MLA’s ex­penses were noted by the au­di­tor gen­eral. Richard Hurl­burt, MLA for Yar­mouth, has al­ready re­vealed he spent nearly $8,000 for an emer­gency gen­er­a­tor in­stalled at his home.

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