MP’s plea for refugee aid comes with some irony

Is it not ironic that an MP backbencher who made headlines for being the highest-spending federal politician in B.C. in the 2008-2009 fiscal year, and second-highest spender in all of Canada, was one of three Tory MPs flown to Iraq recently on a mission to see how Canadian aid is being used to help refugees there?

On Monday, the Ottawa Citizen ran a story under the headline "Conservative MP calls for more western aid for Kurds," in which Russ Hiebert, who announced in February he won’t be seeking reelection in South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, calls for more help from the west.

The longtime Surrey MP, first elected in 2004, told the Ottawa Citizen that lamentably some of the crisis "in delivering appropriate aid has come about because of internal divisions within the Iraqi government itself."

Hiebert makes a strong case for helping the refugees, in his MP report stating that more western aid is "essential to prevent a developing humanitarian disaster in Kurdish, Iraq."

But it’s hard not to forget that this impassioned plea is coming from a guy who recorded $637,093 in MP expenses when the national average was about $200,000.

Sure, that was back in 2008-09.

According to Hiebert’s latest available Member’s Expenditures Report (April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013), he’s managed to pare back his spending to $467,140.57.

Under the "travel" category alone, he rang up $62,431.11 for himself, $13,761.53 for a "designated traveler," $16,487.36 for dependants, $5,561.08 for employees, $8,425.85 in member’s accommodation and per diem expenses, and $17,671.43 in member’s secondary residence expenses, within that period.

That’s $124,338.36 in travel expenses in just one year, courtesy of Canadian taxpayers.

"While Canada’s resources are limited," Hiebert told the Ottawa Citizen, "we have always endeavoured to assist vulnerable nations…"

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