View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – Is It Time to Change Moving Expense Rules? SEPT 28, 2016

There has been lots of controversy and quite a few accusations thrown around about various individuals moving expenses. This is politics and mud throwing and making your opponent look bad is definitely the name of the game.

Liberal rhetoric in the last campaign- “open and accountable”, a new way of doing things, sunny ways etc. has made this type of issue a perfect one for the opposition parties. More importantly the Liberals have forgotten that in politics perception is everything and some of their moving expense claims appear to the public to be outrageous and out of line.

In reality they have followed the guidelines, hence their standard answer in Question Period. The Conservatives have had a lot of fun with this issue because simply put- some of the expense claims are more than most Canadians can ever hope to earn in salary in a year. The voting public gets this one and they don’t like it. Let us not forget that MPs are also subsidized for their expenses while living in Ottawa, as are our senators. I know quite a few former political staff who accepted jobs and moved to Ottawa knowing none of their expenses would be picked up.

We even have Brad Trost going after a former Conservative Chief of Staff wanting to have him pay back fees etc. It does get a bit ridiculous- if someone who is no longer in the government is fair game, how far back should we go- should we ask Martin and Chretien and maybe Mulroney era staffers to pay back fees?

This does however give parliamentarians a perfect opportunity to look at the guidelines, perhaps this should be a topic for one of the Standing Committees to review and task the committee to come up with new and acceptable guidelines.

Most Canadians don’t get their expenses covered when they move, although you can claim some expenses on your income tax if you moved over a minimum distance to a new job. I wonder what moving expenses media types get covered if they leave Ottawa and move to another city?

It all boils down to what decisions a political staffer makes and based on those very personal decisions, should the taxpayer have to pay for the results of their decision?

First decision- do I accept the job? If you know in advance that only a minimum amount of your moving expenses will be covered, then that will be factored into your decision.

Second decision- should I sell my home? If you were making that decison today, you know in advance that you will be paying real estate fees (government moves get much reduced rates) and you know you will have to pay lawyer’s fees. You could also keep your home, perhaps rent it out. Not a bad idea considering how volatile political life is and how easy it is to lose your job on the Hill. In a hot real estate market such as in Toronto, this is also something to consider as the value of your home is steadily increasing during your short stay in Ottawa.

Should the taxpayer have to pick up the costs of your personal decision to sell?

Third decision- Should I buy or rent in Ottawa? That is another personal decision. No one tells you that you have to buy a home. You can rent some pretty nice apartments on a senior PMO staff salary. You can also rent some pretty nice homes and still be close to your office. It is a personal decision when you choose to buy a home here. Before you decide to buy, you know that you will be paying our infamous welcome tax. You know in advance that you will pay legal fees. Should taxpayers be on the hook because you made the personal decision to buy and not rent?

Your actual moving expenses IE having a company pack your things up and move them to Ottawa and then unpack them different decisions. You have only a few choices in moving companies and you won’t find that much difference in rates. It is not unreasonable to see those expenses covered and the general public IE voters understand those costs.

There is an argument to be made that the costs that are currently covered apply to the civil service, military, RCMP etc. All true, but let us keep in mind that those personnel don’t have a choice when they move. They are told where they are going and when they are going- a big difference.

Going forward, should senior political staff be treated differently when it comes to moving expenses? Now is a good time for our parliamentarians to sit down and look at the process and the cost to the taxpayer. Let us see what they decide to do; after all it is our money that they are spending.


  1. Yesterday I received an e-mail from a very credible Canadian to sign a petition to get rid of the moving expenses that Trudeau did to give not only one person from Toronto but three. When I received the message I was i shock and I signed the petition. Justine is no good at all and I knew that from the very beginning and would never ever vote for him. $127K to move from TO is unfathomable.

  2. A while ago I read where a couple of senior citizens living in L’Orignal Québec have received bills for $300./month during the summer and $700./month during the winter and are trying to use a gas heater and turn off the hydro. No wonder people here in Ottawa are selling between the taxes and utility bills not counting the mortgage or rent or anything this is highway robbery.

  3. In the major cities they are building condos (condoms) and in downtown Ottawa they have been building condoms the size of a shoe box barely enough space for a couple of sheeple. No wonder I read where you have to put the cat on the roof and clothes in the oven because there is no space at all. This is outrageous and people cannot afford to buy. Can you picture TO and Vancouver OMG Almighty.

  4. My daughter refuses to vote and none of us in our family will ever vote liberal/fiberal. We are very conservative and if nobody fills what we believe in we will not go to the polls. If voting were a necessity we would vote in Jamie’s dogs and the dogs in the neighborhood. They wouldn’t want the job and say only insane humans would want that job. How mighty true indeed.

  5. I guess they don’t want to talk about the $300,000 the Cons spent on moving expenses.

  6. Hugger it is just like my daughter said including today that none are worth voting for and that they are all crooks. My daughter is 37 and has never voted. One time she went for a job and it was a good paying job at elections Canada and she turned it down. The question to her was if she was political and she told them no way at all and doesn’t vote. She wanted nothing to do with politics.

  7. If you don’t vote don’t complain about what politicians do.

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