Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Taiwan and Israel destinations of choice for junketing MPs, especially Tories
Taiwan and Israel were the all-expenses-paid destinations of choice for MPs again last year, according to a parliamentary report on sponsored travel for 2010.
And Conservative MPs were the most likely to take these junkets paid for by foreign governments, advocacy groups and business organizations.
According to the annual sponsored travel report from the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner's office, MPs took 20 free trips to Taiwan, often with spouses, worth a total declared value of more than $133,500.
Fifteen of the 20 Taiwanese trips went to Conservatives, Liberals took three and the NDP and Bloc Quebecois one each.
The trips, including airfare, hotel, and sometimes gifts, were all paid for by the Chinese International Economic Co-operation Association, a business and trade lobby organization.
Taiwan has topped the list of sponsored MP trip destinations for several years running.
Israel was the second most popular destination, with 10 trips in 2010, including seven by Tories. The Canada-Israel Committee was credited with paying some $90,500 for the tours by MPs and their spouses.
Turkey and Paris each logged eight sponsored junkets each, with Conservatives taking four of the Turkish trips and the NDP two. Liberals availed themselves of four sponsored trips to Paris, the Conservatives three and the New Democrats one, shutting out the Bloc from the fashionable French capital.
MPs took seven trips in 2010 to the world's burgeoning economic giant, China, with Liberals scooping up six and the Conservatives just one — a $14,000 trip by Tory MP Gord Brown to Hong Kong paid for by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office.
Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis alone accounted for three of the seven MP trips to China, sponsored by three different groups for a total subsidy of $10,500. The Toronto-area MP also took two other sponsored trips in 2010, to Nigeria and Haiti, making him the most often sponsored traveller in the House of Commons.
In all, 68 different MPs took a total of 96 sponsored trips in 2010.