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Watchdog groups call on House of Commons to close spending loophole

Two advocacy groups are calling on the House of Commons to close a loophole that has allowed members of Parliament travelling to party conventions to expense more than half a million dollars over the past year.

They are also calling for the money billed to the House of Commons through the loophole to be reimbursed, in whole or in part.

«Taxpayers shouldn't be subsidizing politicians to go to their political conventions,» said Franco Terrazzano, federal director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. «Political parties have a lot of money. Politicians have a lot of money. Normal working people don't. So this was wrong and the money needs to be paid back.»

Terrazzano said the money should be paid back either by the MPs who claimed the travel expenses or by their parties.

He said he also wants to see the cost of cabinet retreats reined in, adding the Liberal government's retreats to discuss affordability cost taxpayers more than a million dollars.

Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, also called for the loophole to be eliminated.

«The loophole never should have been put into the rules,» he said, «and the rule should be changed immediately so that if a party holds a caucus meeting at the same time and location as a party convention, MPs and senators and their staff would be required to pay half of their travel and accommodations costs, and any family members that travel with them would have to pay all their own costs.»

CBC News reported that House of Commons spending rules have allowed MPs to charge $538,314 in travel, accommodation, meals and incidentals to Parliament since May 2023 to attend caucus meetings connected to party conventions, including more than $84,000 for «designated travellers.»

Under House of Commons

Read more on cbc.ca