08 May 2005

Helicopters to Holyrood? Doyle and Hearn spend big on travel

In the Indy this week are two things worth reading. I'll post more on the issue of custodial management and Jeff Ducharme's excellent front-page story, later on Sunday.

But for this little waker-upper, let's flip to page 9, wherein managing editor Ryan Cleary buried the results of a little bit of research in spending by the province's members of parliament.

The MPs are listed from most expensive to least expensive for the fiscal year ending March 31 2004. In other words, these figures are a year old.

Not surprisingly, Bill Matthews and the late Lawrence O'Brien come out on top, largely because of their high travel costs. Try buying an airline ticket to Labrador and the get around the riding and you'll see why O'Brien racked up more in travel costs than in staff salaries.

Matthews also represents a huge riding, so, again, his travel costs outstrip his staff budget.

But here's a little bit of information the Indy didn't find peculiar in the slightest. Personally, I thought this was more of a page one piece than Craig's testimony - especially since TransCon already covered their own reporter's comments. [coughcough]

At the time these expenses were racked up, Progressive Conservative MPs Norm Doyle and Loyola Hearn represented ridings on the Avalon Peninsula.

Doyle's was confined to much of the same space he currently represents.

Hearn used to have to truck down past his home in Renews to Trepassey and Placentia on his jaunts to the riding but here's the funky thing. Unlike, say O'Brien or Matthews, the two PCs could actually drive from one end of their ridings - let alone drive in a few hours at most - from the airport in St. John's to any point they needed to visit.

So why then did Mr. Doyle rack up $172, 904 in travel expenses?

And why did Loyola Hearn cost taxpayers $164, 159 for travel?

The Indy story concludes with a little bit of editorialising, a testament to its high journalistic standards, no doubt:

"The most frugal of the province's MPs was a bit of a surprise - Natural Resources Minister and Avalon MP John Efford."

There's no explanation of why that was surprising any more than there is an explanation of why the Indy decided to avoid asking two St. John's MPs why they spent so much on travelling in two of the province's smallest ridings.