Tax­pay­ers group says con­stituency al­lowances shouldn’t fund sport, char­i­ties

Cape Breton Post - - ATLANTIC - BY KEITH DOUCETTE

Hen­nig added that he has no prob­lem with politi­cians pro­mot­ing their work through the dis­tri­bu­tion of Cana­dian or pro­vin­cial flags or sim­i­lar sou­venirs.

“It’s a bit more ap­pro­pri­ate than some­thing that has the mem­ber’s name or pic­ture or some­thing they are go­ing to have di­rect elec­toral ben­e­fit from,” he said.

Hen­nig added that as the prac­tice be­comes “en­trenched,” an en­ti­tle­ment is cre­ated that be­comes dif­fi­cult to elim­i­nate.

Al­though not con­demned out­right, the prac­tice was sin­gled out as part of the prob­lem around ques­tion­able spending and murky ex­pense guide­lines in a re­cent re­port by Nova Sco­tia’s au­di­tor gen­eral.

Jac­ques La­pointe found that the amounts spent on ad­ver­tis­ing from mem­bers’ re­ceipt­able con­stituency ex­pen­di­tures ranged from as low as 13 per cent to as high as 85 per cent.

He said meth­ods used for ad­ver­tis­ing var­ied from the use of tra­di­tional me­dia such as news­pa­pers to do­na­tions to or­ga­ni­za­tions and in­di­vid­u­als.

La­pointe con­cluded that cur­rent prac­tices in Nova Sco­tia al­lowed “un­lim­ited flex­i­bil­ity” in how money was spent and he rec­om­mended bring­ing in tighter rules.

At $52,066 in to­tal re­ceipts, En­ergy Min­is­ter Bill Estabrooks was among the higher spenders with $44,424 of that amount go­ing to­wards me­dia ad­ver­tis­ing, do­na­tions and gifts.

Estabrooks sees no prob­lem us­ing his money to fund school pro­grams and sports teams in ex­change for see­ing some play­ers run around with “Bill MLA” on their backs.

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