Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong; Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg.

Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong; Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg.

Fellow MLA ‘jumped gun’ on expense reports – Hogg

White Rock-South Surrey MLA Gordon Hogg says elected officials already planned to publish details of their expense accounts when Health Minister Mike de Jong announced he is putting pressure fellow MLAs to do so.

White Rock-South Surrey MLA Gordon Hogg says Health Minister Mike de Jong “jumped the gun” earlier this month in announcing he’d voluntarily publish details of his expense account and pressure other MLAs to do the same.

De Jong, a fellow BC Liberal who serves as MLA for Abbotsford West, announced Aug. 4 that he’d soon begin posting spreadsheets on his website to show constituents how much he was spending on everything from phone service to office furniture.

But Hogg said this week that the Legislative Assembly Management Committee is already in the process of establishing means by which all MLA expenses – including both Liberals and members of the Opposition – are voluntarily published.

Hogg said that while all sides appear to agree that publishing MLA expenses is a good idea, there are two caveats that need to be established before the process can move forward.

“We want to release the information from everybody in the same format so that valid comparisons can be made – to save people being being vilified for inappropriate reasons.”

Hogg said the committee is also seeking advice from Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham on publishing such items as employee salaries.

“Most MLAs are independent employers and there are limitations generally on what information on employees can be published by employers,” he said.

“The Privacy Commissioner will have to make a ruling on that.”

Minister of Labour, Citizens Services and Open Government Stephanie Cadieux, MLA for Surrey-Panorama, and Finance Minister Kevin Falcon, MLA for Surrey Cloverdale, did not return calls requesting comment earlier this week.