Sims says Harper’s travel crackdown ‘disingenuous’

SURREY – New Democrat MP Jinny Sims is raising her eyebrows after a report that Prime Minister Stephen Harper instructed Tory MPs to not accept any sponsored overseas trips until after the Oct. 19 general election.

“It seems a bit disingenuous to me,” said Sims, MP for Surrey-North Delta. “During election time this comes up. Surely that should be there all the time.

“It shows it’s more election than the substance of the value of the visits,” said the MP for Newton-North Delta.

The Hill Times Online reported this week that Harper made the request last month during a weekly caucus meeting in an effort to avoid problems for the party heading into the election.

Surrey Conservative MP Russ Hiebert, who after announcing in 2014 he will not be seeking re-election this fall, was earlier this year the subject of a Vancouver Sun headline that read “Surrey Conservative is top globetrotter among Canada’s MPs.”

Hiebert was revealed to be the highest-spending federal politician in B.C. in the 2008-2009 fiscal year and second-highest spending MP in Canada.

He recorded $637,093 in MP expenses when the national average was roughly $200,000.

For the third year running, Hiebert was identified as the “most prolific user of ‘sponsored travel’ in the House of Commons,” haven taken trips to Paris, Istanbul, Taipei and elsewhere last year.

The Toronto Star also published a story revealing Hiebert travelled to Taipei with his wife for “economic and cultural education” in April 2014, two months after announcing he won’t seek reelection.

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