MPs, senators on track to spend $4.5M on foreign travel, hosting guests this year

MPs, senators on track to spend $4.5M on foreign travel, hosting guests this year
From CBC - November 15, 2017

MPs and senators are on track to spend$4.5 million to meet with their parliamentary counterparts around the globe this fiscal year$1 million more than was spent last year.

According to information on the calendar of events for parliamentary associations,the groups of MPsand senators tasked with promoting Canada's interests abroad,the $4.5 millionwillcover at least 134 meetings.It means hostinga number of visiting legislators from around the world in Canada and funding at least 69 trips abroad by delegations of Canadian MPs and senators.

Canadian parliamentarians have travelled toFrance, China andPortugal and are planning to visitcities such as Washington, Las Vegas and Kingston, Jamaica, according to the list of scheduled trips.

Last year these groups took 83 trips at a cost to taxpayers of more than $3.5 million. That was the largest number of trips abroad in five years, according to Colette Labrecque-Riel, the director general ofinternational and interparliamentaryaffairsin the House of Commons.

Labrecque-Riel presented the latest 2016-2017 expenditures to the Board of Internal Economy (BOIE) , the governing body of the House of Commons, on Nov.2.

She disclosed the informationunder new rules governing the formerly secretive BOIE.Previously, details on the spending were kept under tight wraps, but some meetings are now televised and transcripts are publicly released.

Labrecque-Riel says the number of activities increased last year and used up 98 per cent of the budget. That's"somewhat unheard of" for associations, she said, noting that activities were "significantly higher" than in previous years.

Increased costs

Canadian parliamentary associations are required to pay membership fees to take part in meetings held by international organizations. Those fees representa large part of the total budget for parliamentary travel. In 2016-2017 membership fees took up $1.3 million of the $3.5 million budget.

Labrecque-Riel told BOIE members that sixof the 13parliamentary associations are required to pay membership fees to be invited to global meetings. Those with the highest fees include the Canadian Group of Inter-Parliamentary Union, which promotes democratic values and Canadian interests,and the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association.

Extra funding denied


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