A planned face-off between prime minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff and a conservative MP over moving and travel expenses won’t happen after the two sides fail to agree on terms.
The verbal joust between Guy Giorno and Saskatoon-University MP Brad Trost was supposed to take place Wednesday on CBC News Network’s Power Politics, but it fell apart when the two men failed to agree to terms for the debate.
Specifically, Giorno requested Trost sign a declaration promising neither would sue over anything said during the show. Trost did not want conditions on the debate.
The pair exchanged words over social media in recent days, after senior Liberal staffers Gerald Butts and Katie Telford were revealed to have been reimbursed $207,052 in moving expenses for relocating to Ottawa. Butts claimed $126,669.56, while Telford claimed $80,382.55.
Butts and Telford agreed last week to return about $65,000, describing that portion of their expenses as “unreasonable.”
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Pushing back against Conservative accusations of Liberal entitlement, Government House Leader Bardish Chagger revealed that the previous Harper government approved more than $300,000 in moving expenses for PMO staffers over 10 years when Harper was in office, including $93,000 for a single employee.
Giorno, who said it was likely he was the recipient of the $93,000, defended the Trudeau government’s relocation reimbursement policy, noting it is handled by a third party adhering to the government’s long established policy governing moving costs.
This is when Trost stepped into the debate, posting a video to his Twitter account on Monday urging Giorno to follow the Liberals’ lead and “do what’s right.”
“What’s good for the Grit is good for the Tory,” Trost said in the video. “So when Guy Giorno said in the news that he charged $79,000, I think he should do the right thing — not that he did anything unethical or illegal — but he should do the right thing by the Canadian taxpayer and pay some of that back.”
Giorno counter-attacked with his own Facebook posting, singling out Trost for his own expenses as an MP.
“Mr. Trost has never had to deal with relocation because his travel and accommodation costs are covered by the taxpayers,” Giorno said in the post.
“Do we want a fair and independent determination based on consistent rules, or do we want Brad Trost to impose his arbitrary and personal opinion on people in a situation he will never have to face?”
Trost returned to Twitter Tuesday to post another video, saying that he had, in fact, expensed about $1.5 million over the last 12 years on meals, hotels and travelling to and from his riding.
Giorno and Trost planned to debate the issue of expenses on Wednesday’s show of Power Politics. But early Wednesday afternoon it became clear the pair could not agree on terms.
Giorno emailed the CBC a statement, one he later posted to Facebook, explaining that while Giorno had agreed not to sue Trost, the Conservative MP would not make the same commitment.
“His insistence on reserving the right to sue me for what may occur on the show has a chilling effect on free speech and is antithetical to accountability and transparency,” Giorno said in part, an argument he continued in posts aimed at Trost on Twitter.
CBC emailed Giorno’s statement to Trost asking for a response and received a single word in reply:
Article source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trost-giorno-debate-expenses-1.3783078?cmp=rss