Hey big spender: how much MLAs billed for travel in 2009

Steve Nordick retained his title in 2009 as the Yukon MLA with the biggest travel budget. The Klondike MLA billed a total of $38,643.79 for 36.5 trips that year.

Steve Nordick retained his title in 2009 as the Yukon MLA with the biggest travel budget.

The Klondike MLA billed a total of $38,643.79 for 36.5 trips that year.

“My job is to represent the riding and to help make decisions in the best interest of the Yukon,” Nordick said in an interview. “I have to be in Whitehorse for that. I have a family in Dawson and community members I represent that I want to see on a regular basis. I take my job very seriously and I have to be in both places, so I travel.”

It would be cheaper if Nordick flew rather than drove. Air North has return tickets from Dawson City to Whitehorse for September selling for $348.60, all in.

By comparison, Nordick collects $618.70 each return drive to Whitehorse for mileage, plus other expenses, such as gas and per diems, that range, depending on the trip, from $91.60 to $561.10.

Air travel wouldn’t work for Nordick, he explained. “The schedule doesn’t work. I have to be in Whitehorse on Monday and there’s no flights out on Sundays. It just doesn’t work.”

MLAs are paid the government rate for milage. The details of other expenditures are not publicly disclosed by the office of the legislative assembly.

Nordick was tight-lipped about details about his 550-kilometre commute. He wouldn’t even disclose what vehicle he drives. “What relevance does that have?” he asked. “I drive a vehicle I bought in Whitehorse.”

Hot on Nordick’s heels was Gary McRobb, MLA for Kluane, who received $35,483.49 for 69 trips. Travel expenses for other MLAs are as follows, in descending order by cost:

Eric Fairclough, MLA for Mayo-Tatchun, billed $21,092.13 for 53 trips. That includes one paid trip to Tanzania to attend the Canadian Parliamentary Association’s conference in October of 2009, at a cost of $4,247. MLAs take turns each year attending these taxpayer-paid junkets.

Premier Dennis Fentie, MLA for Watson Lake, billed a total of $17,188.20. That includes 23 commutes to his riding and one aircraft he chartered to attend the Dawson City special sitting ($1,010 of the charter’s cost was expensed as MLA travel).

Darius Elias, MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin, billed a total of $15,357.42 on 13.5 flights to Old Crow, as well as transportation to the Dawson City special sitting and two Outside trips, to attend the Canadian Parliamentary Association’s regional conference in Toronto in July ($2,364.50) and Yukon Day at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in February ($480.19).

Marian Horne, MLA for Pelly-Nisutlin, billed a total of $14,893.08 for 30 trips. That includes a trip to Halifax to attend the Campaign School for Women in October, at a cost of $2,854.63.

Brad Cathers, MLA for Lake Laberge, billed $10,441.60 on 105 trips.

Patrick Rouble, MLA for Southern Lakes, collected $9,867.07 for 155 trips.

Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell, MLA for Copperbelt, billed $7,982.33 for nine trips. That includes a flight to Vancouver to attend the mineral Round Up in January ($2,276.99).

Speaker Ted Staffen, MLA for Riverdale North, billed $7,669.77 for five trips: the Dawson special sitting ($1,577.20), the Canadian Parliamentary Association’s regional conference in Toronto ($2,636.59), the Western Premiers Conference in Dawson last June ($1,157.40), the CPA’s international conference in Tanzania ($2,059.23), and to observe the opening of the BC legislature ($239.35).

Steve Cardiff, MLA for Mount Lorne, billed $6,498.69 for 148 trips.

John Edzerza, MLA for McIntyre-Takhini, billed $5,290.09 to attend three Outside meetings and the special sitting in Dawson City last June. The Outside trips were to attend the Aboriginal Dream Catcher Conference in Edmonton in October ($2,054.47), the mineral Round Up in Vancouver from January 17-19 ($1,529.98) and unspecified meetings in Vancouver from February 19-22 as a Yukon Party caucus representative ($762.69).

Don Inverarity, MLA for Porter Creek South, billed $2,308.70 on two trips: to attend a tourism conference in Dawson City in April of 2009 ($1,161.90) and the special sitting in Dawson ($1,146.80).

Glenn Hart, MLA for Riverdale South, billed $1,130.40 to attend the Dawson City special sitting.

Todd Hardy, MLA for Whitehorse Centre, billed $1,088.90 to attend the Dawson City special sitting.

Jim Kenyon, MLA for Porter Creek North, billed $1,010 to attend the Dawson special session.

Elaine Taylor, MLA for Whitehorse West, collected $684.10 to attend the Dawson City special sitting.

Archie Lang, MLA for Porter Creek Centre, billed no travel expenses for 2009. He was the only MLA not to attend the Dawson City special sitting.

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com.

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