Nice story coming up in the Peace Arch News (South Surrey/White Rock paper):
EDITORIAL: But what has Hiebert done?
Updated: May 27, 2010 2:36 PM
It would be uncharitable not to spare some sympathy for Russ Hiebert.
The beleaguered South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP began his week thinking he was defending himself against a single news item, that listed him as one of Canada’s costliest MPs, by pointing out this was to allow his family to fly with him to Ottawa.
By week’s end, he’s found himself turned into a poster-boy for government waste.
Taking Hiebert’s explanation at face value, it’s a legitimate – if arguable – position. Do we really want our family-aged representatives to risk separation from their children to do our time-intensive bidding half-way across the country? But before we ponder this, we must ask whether Hiebert is not being miserly with his explanation.
Fact is, travel is only one facet of our MP’s expenses that are higher than average. Printing and telephone expenses are both excessive, which he defended later in the week – via the shielded forum of email, naturally – as the cost of communicating with his constituents.
As well, Hiebert justified his rankings by noting both that the report was old and that his travel costs are for a family of four, conveniently sidestepping that during the period in question – the 2008-’09 fiscal year – the Hieberts were merely a family of three, making us that much more incredulous about the mounting comparative costs.
What is particularly interesting is the number of people who have said that they would be far less critical if they felt they were getting something of value for their tax money in their representative in Ottawa. Instead, they are getting a party loyalist whose accomplishments are somewhat intangible.
While it could be argued Hiebert has done no real damage as a member of Parliament, even his most fervent supporters must be asking what he has succeeded in actually doing in this Conservative-friendly constituency that couldn’t be accomplished by any yes-man or yes-woman. (Yes, we appreciate any grant money to come our way; and yes, we deserve it.)
By most accounts, Hiebert seems a pleasant person. He shows dedication to his causes, is quick to offer a kind word and his enthusiasm for civil niceties is to be admired.
Indeed, Hiebert makes it difficult not to sympathize with him.
Yet, after years of listening to his partisan rhetoric about curbing government spending, it is more difficult to support him.