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Trudeau's Ministers and Staff Claim Outrageous Expenses

Trudeau Liberals spent $1.1M to move political staff

Expenses 101: Liberals get painful lesson in perception vs. reality

Two more senior Liberal aides to repay $55,000 in moving expenses.




Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government spent an estimated $1.1 million to move 49 ministerial aides to Ottawa, but how more than half of that amount was spent is a mystery.

In a document tabled in the House of Commons, the government said it spent $373,921 to reimburse the cost of moving services and $52,777 on hotels, but there is little detail on how $685,118 was spent.

While 10 ministerial offices didn't spend a cent to relocate any political staff to Ottawa, the Prime Minister's Office spent an estimated $220,564 to move five people to the capital, with one person reimbursed $126,669 for a move.

The second highest tab was for the office of Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development. According to the department's answer tabled in Parliament, it cost $150,971 to move two staffers — one of whom had expenses estimated at $113,799. The bill for Bains's office also works out to the highest average cost per staffer, amounting to $75,000.

The third highest tab was at Global Affairs, which spent $146,067 to move nine aides to Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion. A single employee accounted for $119,825 of that cost. Dion's staffers spent $33,683 on moving services and $6,635 on hotel stays, but no explanation is given for $105,748 in expenses that were reimbursed.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna's office spent $116,333 to move four staffers to Ottawa, with one staffer spending $75,894 of that amount. Spokeswoman Caitlin Workman said flights account for some of the $88,217 that is not explained by moving or hotel costs.

At the other end of the spectrum, it only cost taxpayers $1,943 in moving costs for one of Transport Minister Marc Garneau's staffers and $3,746 to move one of Revenue Minister Diane LeBouthillier's employees.

Late Thursday, the prime minister's most senior aides, Gerry Butts and Katie Telford, announced they would repay a substantial portion of the more than $200,000 the two of them claimed in expenses to move from Toronto to Ottawa — expenses uncovered by the Conservatives.

In Telford's case, the amount being repaid is $23,373.71 for what Treasury Board policy calls "personalized cash payout and incidentals."

Butts is repaying nearly $20,799.10 claimed under the same heading, plus another $20,819.52, which represents the difference between the land transfer tax he paid and what would be the average transfer-tax bill for a house purchased in Ottawa this year.

Two more Liberal senior staffers are paying back almost $55,000 in moving expenses a day after two of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's most senior staff were compelled to repay $65,000 of their own moving expenses.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains' chief of staff Elder Marques received $103,997 in moving expenses when he relocated to Ottawa. He has agreed to reimburse $22,467 worth of the land transfer taxes he paid when he moved to a $1.5 million home in Rockcliffe.

Joseph Pickerill, spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion, issued a statement late Friday to say Julian Ovens, Dion's chief of staff is also paying back $32,130, an amount "representing the personalized cash payout."

These latest repayments brings to four the number of top Liberal aides who have agreed to reimburse part of the $1.1 million in moving expenses paid to move 49 political staffers to Ottawa.

After first refusing to disclose which staffers were reimbursed for moving expenses, two top advisors to Trudeau —Principal Secretary Gerald Butts and Chief of Staff Katie Telford — issued a statement late Thursday saying that while their moving expense claims followed government rules, they would repay $65,0000 of the amount they received.

Butts had claimed $126,669 in expenses for selling his home in Toronto's High Park neighborhood for $1 million and buying a $1.3 home in Ottawa's trendy Westboro area. The prime minister's office has not responded to questions about whether Butts' expenses include insurance on his $1.16 million mortgage, usually required when a house is bought with a downpayment of only 12-per cent.

Telford, who sold her Toronto home and is renting a house in Westboro, charged $80,382.

Documents tabled in the House of Commons say It cost the government $113,799 to move one of the two political staffers in Bains office, based on the estimates provided by a relocation service hired by the government. However, Proulx said that was just an estimate and the final tab was $103,997 Moving the second staffer cost an estimated $37,171.

According to land registry records, Marques, who worked as a lawyer with McCarthy Tétrault before coming to work for Bains, sold his home on Yarmouth Road in Toronto in May for $1,472,000 and bought a home on Buena Vista Road in Ottawa's toney Rockcliffe neighborhood for $1,493,355.

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