Monday, February 17, 2014

General Leslie's moving expenses

MND Rob Nicholson and others are making a lot of noise about General Andrew Leslie's moving expense claims.

Like most media accounts the above linked article fails to tell us what moving expenses government/Treasury Board/DND regulations actually allow (and disallow). General Leslie's move was a local move (within 40 km) to an Intended Place of Residence (IPR) on release. His move was authorized under these regulations so it would be logical to conclude that his moving expense claim was within the rules. General Leslie would have been advised by DND administrative staff what expenses would be covered.

Rob Nicholson's observation that Leslie's local moving expense claims "appear grossly excessive" is understandable. So is his pledge to look into it:
"... I will be asking the Department of National Defence to examine how an in-city move could possibly total over $72,000".

That's good. It does seem excessive. He should look into it.

But Nicholson also attacked General Leslie's integrity:
"In the meantime, it is important for Andrew Leslie to explain why he believes this is a reasonable expense for hard working Canadians to absorb. This is a matter of judgment and the responsible use of taxpayers dollars."
There Nicholson is way off base. Leslie doesn't have to "explain" anything (even if he is an advisor to that dipsh*t, Justin Trudeau).   It's the Treasury Board and Nicholson's own DND officials, those responsible for the regulations and the authorizing of claims, that have the explaining to do.  Nicholson will be eating crow (and demanding changes in the rules).

FYI, the applicable government regulations are described here (see Chapter 14):

Update - Ezra Levant's take:

I agree with Ezra on the Media Party's double standard, the partisan bias and that Leslie is now fair game for partisan criticism.  However, like many partisan conservatives Ezra portrays General Leslie's claim for local moving expenses as some kind of  moral outrage.  It isn't.  That moving expense benefit has been available to all ranks for decades.  The  relocation regulations in question do not discriminate based on rank.  And since there are many more lower ranks than there are generals it can be assumed that there has been a lot more money shelled out for similar expenses for the lower ranks than for generals.  Now, if it were to be discovered that the lower ranks have been denied that benefit, then we'd have a real scandal on our hands.


Anonymous said...

This the Harper asshole machine attacking a good person. I will never ever vote for Harper. These petty cheap smears are disgusting. I can't stand the way Harper conducts himself. He is a disgrace.

The question I have for Nicholson and McKay is where is the ministerial accountability. These guys behave like they are not running the department and like they are bystanders. This happened on their watch.

Anonymous said...

This is a retired general who moved 4 minutes from his family home of elitist LIBERALS in Ottawa. This is the same general who fired many DND employees to save money and left a bad taste in a lot of people in the DND. This very rich LIBERAL maybe followed the rules BUT SO DID DUFFY AND WALLIN AND BEV ODA. Remember what they went through DOING THE EXACT SAME THING.

Anonymous said...

The majority of the expenses were real estate fees, he must've bought some expensive real estate. He hasn't actually done anything wrong, although I wonder who the real estate agent was. CTV 'obtained' the documents but they don't say where from. I'd bet it was a freedom of information fishing expedition which brought this up. then again, maybe the NDP are getting worried about their chances.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say the Conservatives' reaction was as per usual: instead of limiting himself to promising to fix a previously existing problem, Minister Nicholson went into personal attack mode, thus reinforcing the negative image the media and the opposition have created of the Conservatives: that of bullies.

On the other hand, the media and the general went over the top in chastizing the Conservatives, calling the disclosure "a smear job". One local radio talk show in my area this morning pontificated on how "fair/not fair the Conservatives' attack on General Leslie was", of course omitting to mention that the disclosure of the moving expense claim came from the same outfit that disclosed the expense claims of Senators Brazeau, Duffy, Harb, and Wallin, NOT from the Conservatives. The "fairness" of those disclosures was never raised, if memory serves.
-- Gabby in QC

Anonymous said...

How many shows did the main street media have over Bev Oda's $13.00 orange juice. I think if I remember - that expense was also approved, but that didn't stop the media saying how excess it was. I think a move 4 minutes down the road for $72000 is quite a bit compared to $13.oo but like the liberals say - "they are entitled to their entitlements.

Anonymous said...

Nicholson should look into it. If it did not comply with policy then the employees that processed it should be fired. If it complied with policy then Nicholson should say so.

Instead, Nicholson, with no information, used the opportunity to smear a great general. That is partisan trash. It is a disgrace. Anon is right the Harper asshole machine is in full throttle.

JR said...

I don't like the waste that this represents any more than anyone else. But I also dislike the media playing 'gottcha', usually without checking out the facts, when high profile people are involved.

If Leslie's claim for expenses was approved, then it was likely within the rules and if it was within the rules then other similar claims have been approved for soldiers of all ranks. Them's the rules.

Being retired military I'm familiar with the process, but I didn't know that the rules allowed for such claims for a local move. It doesn't seem right and I'd say that those rules should be changed. But Leslie shouldn't be singled out as a whipping boy.

Nor should Bev Oda have been driven from office over that high- priced glass of orange juice.

Anonymous said...

I think the Conservatives have exposed the media's double standards and hypocrisy when it comes to Government spending. These are the "expense claims" Leslie is "entitled" to, a bloody waste if you ask me, but Duffy Wallin etc. also claimed "expenses"... why then does Leslie not get held to the same standard by the media, that the media hold Duffy and Wallin? How does the media justify feigning "outrage" at Duffy and Wallins expense claims, but rush to the defense of Leslie for doing exactly the same thing?

Anonymous said...

I don't feel Duffy and Wallin's expenses were justified either.... but how many "shows" on CBC and CTV were given to bring negative light to Harper's judgement for appointing them, etc, I don't think either one of them have been charged for filing faulty expenses, maybe they were within their rights and also approvied but that didn't stop the media working day and night to make the Harper Government somehow be responsible for it all. Now what about Justin's judgement for appointing a liberal who feels just like everyone else - they are entitled to their entitlement....and they are SUPPOSE TO BE WORKING FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS! One General was moved from Montreal to Dubai for $40,000... Leslie was moved 4 minutes away for $72,000. Something is wrong! and very bias!

Anonymous said...

I was right about this being a FOI request, but it was from GlobalNews. So who leaked it to CTV, and why them? Agree about double standards, why shouldn't Leslie be held to the same standards the media holds the other to.

Anonymous said...

Why are they saying this is a Conservative smear? If it is a fact, shouldn't it be of interest to all Canadians as the main street media thought it was of interest to Canadians to have 100 shows on Duffy and Wallin? I would think the main street media would be as anxious to ask Trudeau about his judgement in appointing someone who is so anxious to take the taxpayer for all they can get while at the same time - telling the Armed Forces to cut their wasteful budgets!!!

Anonymous said...

Why are they saying this is a Conservative smear?
Well because the facts are "smears" when they are about Liberals.
Of course the smears are "facts" when they are about Conservatives.
CBC/CTV have an irrational hate on for all things Conservative.
That Sir is a fact.
Remember robo-call, body bags, host-gate, tee-pee starvation media stunt?
Just my observations.
Bubba Brown

Frances said...

First of all, the real estate fees would be paid by the General on SELLING his first home. Nothing to do with buying. Although Ontario may have other fees for buyers of which I am unaware.

Second, it seems obvious the intent of this particular entitlement is to enable retiring servicemen and women to relocate from the base at which they are retiring to their home area or wherever they have found a new job. It would certainly never have been intended to subsidize a senior officer's decision to sell one pricy home and move to another a few blocks away.

JR said...

Frances, It would be more accurate to say that the policy was not intended to subsidize 'only' senior officers' local moves. If you read the regulation it is fairly clear that it was intended to subsidize all ranks' local moves on release. There are no special considerations based on rank.

Given that there are many, many more lower ranks than general officers it's reasonable to assume that a lot more money has been spent paying for lower ranks' local moves on retirement than for generals. Now, if it were to be discovered that lower ranks have been refused this release benefit then we'd have a real scandal on our hands.

In my opinion the only 'scandal' here (if it is a scandal it isn't much of one) is that for decades the government/Treasury Board/DND/RCMP have authorized claims for local moves. And, I wouldn't be surprised if this policy soon changes.

B.T.W. If I had made a local move on my retirement from the military I'd have happily claimed for moving expenses too. I'd have considered it another earned retirement benefit. But it still wouldn't have compensated for all the expenses I've paid out of pocket over my years of service (I moved households more than a dozen times and many moves were made before real estate expenses were covered).

Anonymous said...

I can understand if this person retired somewhere other than where they want to retire or their home is located.... that the Military would relocate them back to their home... but to move from a million dollar home - 4 minutes down the road to another pricy home - just because you can and we pay for it - is wrong! and he would know it! He just wanted to make sure he changed homes before it was too late, knowing you and I had to pay for it.... If this is the type of person he is - can you imagine if he was ever elected to the House of Commons just whose back he would be covering.... A typical liberal - entitled to their entitlements...

JR said...

It is understandable that people think that taxpayers should not be paying for local moves for military and RCMP on retirement. I don't think we should either.

But the moral outrage against General Leslie is misplaced. This moving benefit has been available for decades for all ranks. I don't blame Leslie for taking advantage of it any more than I would blame the corporals, sergeants and captains who have claimed it - and there are many more corporals, sergeants and captains than there are generals.

That said, the regulations should and, I predict, soon will be changed.

Alain said...

With all the real problems and scandals only in Canada do we have such a ridiculous flap over MPs, Senators and now Leslie who followed Treasury Board rules and regulations for expenses. Those who think the amounts are outrageous need to take a shower and learn what the regulations are. This is bureaucracy where bureaucrats must follow existing regulations as they are written. An official audit of Dufy's spending confirmed that he had not broken the rules, regulations or the law, yet the Left went into a feeding frenzy and Harper threw him to the wolves. These regulations are not new and the same thing has happened under Liberal governments, but all of a sudden it becomes a major issue with the Conservatives in power. I also want to add that the regulations do not state that you are only eligible if you move a certain distance.

Most of the hysterical reaction for cases like Bev Oda, Duffy and now Leslie come from people who have no idea about the workings of the federal bureaucracy. If it is written as allowable in the regulation, then it must be approved. While these are Treasury Board regulations, they generally result from collective agreements, so it is not within the discretion of the ones in charge or even the government to refuse to grant what is allowed. Due to this they cannot be change over night by any government.

For me the issue here is the blatant double standard (yes, I know what's new?) by the Left. When it was a Conservative it is a national outrage, but when it is a Liberal anyone pointing it out becomes the problem. I do not include here those who abused the regulations and in other words broke the law, and they should face the consequences be they Liberal, Conservative or whatever.

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand why any conservative cares what liberals think of them. Seriously do you think if we play nice and turn the other cheek when they attack us they'll like us or something? Do you even want that? How exactly has their supposed successful branding of the conservative party as a party of bullies been working out for them electorally?

Anonymous said...

However 70k to move?
When we are trying to find money to maintain air superiority over rivals like Russia?
As a canadian im entitled to health care,bleak as it maybe.It doesnt mean i cash in on it when i have a cold.
The general played within the rules,fine.
Change the rules.