By Barrhaven Independent Staff
Nepean PC incumbent Lisa MacLeod is facing a swarm of pressure from the Ontario New Democrats after taking $44,000 over three years from her local riding association. The money was used as an MPP allowance.
On Monday morning the NDP released their findings at a virtual news conference. It showed MacLeod received $18,200 in 2018 as an MPP expense allowance, with another $16,727 in 2019 and $9,500 in 2020.
Riding associations are legally required to file financial statements with Elections Ontario every year. They are funded through party donors, but also receive some taxpayer dollars through the per-vote subsidy given to parties in the legislature.
MacLeod, who is also an Ontario cabinet minister in charge of tourism, culture, and sport, receives a salary of $165,000 per year. That’s on top of money provided for travel, meals, hospitality, and the $26,000 MPP’s receive for accommodation in Toronto.
While taking the expenses out of the riding association isn’t illegal, the NDP says it’s “alarming” and unethical.
“This was essentially her own personal ATM machine,” said NDP candidate Catherine Fife at a virtual news conference. “I have never heard of an MPP asking for an allowance from the riding association to make her life more comfortable. And I think that speaks to how disconnected this government is from the real priorities of the people that we serve.”
MacLeod was the only Ottawa-area PC member of provincial parliament to take an allowance from their riding association, however Mississauga area PC MPP Kaleed Rasheed was given $23,000 in allowances over two years from his riding association’s bank account.
Both the Ontario New Democrats and Liberals say none of their MPP’s have received any form of allowance or expenses through their respective riding associations.
The Ontario Pregessive Conservatives are defending MacLeod’s actions, saying the expenses were approved by the party.
“All riding association expenses are approved by the local riding association executive, audited by a licensed auditor, and all audited financial statements are reviewed and approved by Elections Ontario,” said campaign spokesperson Ivana Yelich in a statement sent to the media.
Fife said the NDP released their findings because members of MacLeod’s riding association should be aware that the Nepean MPP “was using their donations as an ATM to make her life more comfortable.”
Fife is now calling on Elections Ontario to launch an investigation.
“It’s never been more obvious to us that Doug Ford and his conservative MPPs are working for themselves and their friends and they are not working for you,” she said. “To see an MPP have to top up their living expenses, particularly housing allowance, to the tune of $44,000 is shocking. I have never heard of this happening.”
MacLeod, who was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2006, is aiming for a sixth term at Queen’s Park.