Monday, February 17, 2014

Five questions about the Leslie moving expense furor

Former Canadian Forces lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie - and federal Liberal advisor and prospective star candidate - is being attacked by the Harper Conservatives for claiming $72,000 in retirement moving expenses under a policy that applies to RCMP officers and the military.
The Intended Place of Residence policy covers retiring Mounties and military personnel for one last move after they retire. The idea is that if you end your career in Newfoundland, but want to move back to be closer to your grandkids in Saskatoon, the government will pick up the cost. It’s a reward for accepting a series of transfers over the course of a career.
But the Leslie case raises some questions.
1) Was the information about Leslie’s expenses a political smear engineered by the Conservatives? CTV News broke the story, saying it had “obtained” documents on the moving expenses. But the TV network did not say how it got the documents, or from whom. That should be part of the story.
2) Is the Conservative government suggesting its policy should be changed, and the costs of a last move should not be covered by taxpayers? If so, why has the change not been made over the eight years the Conservatives have governed?
3) What was Leslie thinking? Just because the benefit is in place doesn’t mean you need to claim it. Leslie was highly paid, over $250,000 a year, and retiring on a pension that most Canadians could only dream about. He decided he wanted a different house in Ottawa. Why did he choose to have taxpayers pick up the costs - moving fees, real estate commissions, property transfer taxes - for what was a personal choice?
4) How much is the policy costing taxpayers? About 3,500 Mounties and Canadian Forces employees are retiring each year.
5) And given that volume, why hasn’t the federal government negotiated a better deal? The largest chunk of Leslie’s expenses were real estate fees. Surely the government, with thousands of moves a year, could get a better deal on real estate commissions.


John's Aghast said...

Heck, that's only $25 million a year. At that rate it would take two million years to fund the Sochi Olympus cost! Wouldn't that make a difference in Honduras!
Have we got our priorities in order?

James King, Victoria said...

I think the main question is why anyone would target a man like Leslie? He appears to have followed the rules and apparently the majority of the costs were for real estate fees. The feds have been paying moving expenses and real estate fees for a lot of civil servants (and MPs too I wager) for at least a generation. Harper could change the rules if he wanted to but making Leslie a scapegoat is just plain stupid given his record and his ancestry.

Targeting the grandson of Andrew McNaughton is just plain idiotic unless you're planning on picking a fight.

Anonymous said...

Paul - please contact David at the University of Regina Press as soon as is possible.