Images of Charles Boyer and his favourite places borrowed from CTVNews

Bureaucrats and expense accounts:
The never-ending feast

Ottawa - Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - by: Walter Robinson, Federal Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation


Just when you thought official Ottawa had learned its lesson in the post-Radwanski environment, a new glutton at the public trough has been unearthed (or is that found at the buffet table?). Come on down Charles Boyer, loyal Liberal partisan and former top aide to Canadian Heritage Minister Sheila Copps.




Access to Information papers reveal that Mr. Boyer dinged taxpayers for almost $30,000 in fine dining — at several Ottawa-area fifi sheshe fine dining establishments — during a two-year stint as executive assistant to Ms. Copps, who just happens to be running to be leader of the Liberal Party. For the record, Ms. Copps, signed off on all of these expenses.




Mr. Boyer’s “cheque please” tour, includes charging taxpayers for two separate dinners on June 12, 2002. He charged $102 at an Ottawa area Japanese restaurant in the early evening and then a quick car ride (or was that a cab and a government taxi chit?) over to Ottawa’s Little Italy and a modest $397 tab. Boy that must have been great pasta and if only all public servants worked so hard, so late and so hungry in the evening. Can you say abuse of the public purse? Hopefully his gym membership was up to date after all this caloric intake.




Mr. Boyer has since left the employ of taxpayers and is now a lobbyist for the Canadian Association of Broadcasters. One wonders if they’ll keep a closer eye on his expenses?


  Expenses are a legitimate function of business. In the spirit of disclosure, this author racked up $6,800 in expenses in the most recent 12-month period ending August 31, 2003. This includes meals, hotels, airfare, train tickets, rental cars, subway rides and taxis for some 38 days on the road.


Mr. Boyer now joins the recent expense account shameful legend list of Ted Weatherill (former Chair of the Canada Labour Relations Board) and George Radwanski (recently disgraced Privacy Commissioner).




So what should be done to curb and minimize such abuses in the future? Here are a few constructive thoughts:


  1. Senior bureaucrats and ministerial aides should be required to publicly disclose their expenses on a monthly basis with an independent authority. Constant scrutiny would correct unethical behaviour before it becomes a costly and enduring problem.

  2. Ministers of the Crown seeking the leadership of their party (regardless of partisan stripe) should be forced to resign their cabinet posts — as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has advocated for over a decade — thus ensuring that aides cannot use the cover of ministerial business, government limousines, taxi chits, office supplies, etc., to buttress private partisan efforts.

  3. Treasury Board guidelines applicable to lower lever public servants forbid the expensing of alcohol at meals, the only exception being booze used for hospitality functions with senior level sign-off. This guideline should be extended to all public servants including senior mandarins, political appointees and ministerial aides. On many $100 lunches, booze accounts for up to half the tab.
  These are three simple steps that with even a milligram of political will and courage could be implemented within a week. But then again such action requires women and men in positions of leadership to exhibit moral rectitude and know the difference between right and wrong.
  Until such leaders emerge, thousands of guideline abiding public servants will continue to be painted with the broad brush of public cynicism and the select few hundred who abuse their expense accounts will cost us millions. Sadly, fat cat city lives, eats and drinks on while taxpayers foot the bill. It’s the bureaucratic version of the ‘dine and dash.’

Walter Robinson
Federal Director

Toronto Star, Former Copps aide spent $31,000 on meals, (PDF) September 17, 2003
CBC news, Former Copps aide big spender at posh restaurants, September 17, 2003
CTV News, Copps accused of letting aide rack up huge tab, September 17, 2003


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