Paul Yanko, our web editor, poked his head around my office doorway one morning last week and, without preamble, asked this question.
“What if I rented a car for $5,000, and then charged the company mileage for my trip? Do you think I’d get fired?”
What if I approved that double expense? Would I get fired?
Goodness, I hope so.
Paul didn’t have to explain why he was sarcastically asking that question. The Senate scandal was raging and at this newspaper, as at papers across the country, it was all the talk.
See, senators, when you run a business (or a country), you keep track of expenses and make sure they are reasonable ($5,000 for a rental car is a bit much) and fair (charging on top of that for mileage would be an “invalid expense claim”).
I’m no accountant, believe me, but even I understand this concept. Why are senators seemingly unable to grasp it?
Should they even be in the Senate if they don’t understand these basics? And furthermore, why is no one really keeping track on a regular basis?
If our business or your farm ran things this way, we’d all be bankrupt.
Instead, senators are able to rack up $90,000 plus in living expenses on houses they are not living in, and hundreds of thousands in travel expenses, which really seems a little pricey.
It’s not one or two senators performing these feats of creative accounting, either. There are at least four under the auditor’s microscope now, and Pana Merchant of Sask-atchewan is not answering any questions about husband Tony Merchant’s crazy off-shore trust, of which she is a beneficiary. That makes five.
These shenanigans have likely been going on for a long time — as in decades, not years — because an unaccountable institution breeds entitlement and contempt for its citizenry, or at least its money, and that hasn’t changed since time began.
The arrogance of these senators is breathtaking and the heretofore I-can’t-see-you approach of the government unbelievable.
It’s amazing Canada’s economy is doing relatively well, considering no one seems to be looking at the books with any real scrutiny.