Chilliwack-Hope MP Strahl among the region’s top spenders

Comparison of last year’s expenditures for the 11 MPs from Delta to Hope

Of the 11 Members of Parliament south of the Fraser and in the Fraser Valley from Delta to Hope, Chilliwack-Hope’s Mark Strahl had the second highest total expenses for the last fiscal year at $488,219.

Only John Aldag in Cloverdale-Langley City was higher at $495,833 leading the way for Liberal MPs who were six of the top seven highest spenders in the area.

Eighth was Langley-Aldergrove Conservative Mark Warawa at $448,870 followed by fellow Tory Dianne Watts in South Surrey-White Rock who spent $448,032.

Tenth on the list was Liberal Dan Ruimy in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge, while the award for the thriftiest MP in the region goes to Conservative Abbotsford MP Ed Fast at $420,369.

Federal politicians spent more than $141 million in the last fiscal year and the detailed numbers for each Member of Parliament (MP) break down in very different ways, according to the Members’ Expenditures Report recently posted on the House of Commons website.

The average of all 338 MPs was $417,160. The average Tory spent $435,229 with the average Liberal across Canada — bucking the B.C. trend — spending just $405,152.

The top spending MP in Ottawa was Alberta Conservative MP David Yurdiga ($567,464) followed by Manitoba NDP MP Niki Ashton ($551,275), and third was Labrador Liberal MP Yvonne Jones ($549,984).

Of Strahl’s costs, he spent more than any other MP of the 11 on everyone’s costliest line item: employees’ salaries at $275,881. (Liberal Jati Sidhu in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon spent almost the same, $274,868.)

For his part, Strahl said his staff costs were elevated last year due to a couple of factors, first and foremost was that there was some overlap when he had one staffer training another prior to her departure for law school.

Strahl said the House of Commons has no set pay structure for staff, other than a maximum allowable salary, which none of his staff receive.

“That said, they are very experienced and very capable and serve me and my constituents very well,” he said via email. “I believe they are fairly compensated and I am constantly told that I have exceptional staff by people and organizations who deal with my office on a regular basis. My staff are salaried, and in addition to their regular hours, they are often expected to work on evenings and weekends, and often work extended hours as required, especially when the House is sitting.”

Strahl has four full-time staff, two in Ottawa and two in Chilliwack. He added that some offices choose to go with less staff, or part-time, which is their choice but he thinks his arrangement is best for Chilliwack-Hope constituents.

As for his overall costs, he has a larger budget due to his geographically larger constituency.

“I am also expected to travel across the country as a member of the Shadow Cabinet,” he said. “As a percentage of my maximum allowable budget, my expenditures are in line with my colleagues from across the lower mainland region.”

Strahl spent $65,573 on travel last year; $33,618 on constituency office leases, insurance and utilities; $21,276 on his secondary residence; $11,669 on householders; $10,533 on advertising; and $478 on gifts.

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