At a time when Nova Scotians, like other Canadians, are living under fiscal restraint, it is disheartening, disappointing and downright disturbing to know that so many of our elected officials have abused the public purse and purchased overpriced, frivolous items for their own comfort and enjoyment.
Yes, most had excuses for the purchases, some claiming that the items were to be used by the communities they represent, although it is unclear how Richard Hurlburt planned to serve the community by having an $8,000 generator installed at his home. Maybe he was planning to invite everyone in Yarmouth over to watch TV when their power went out.
Even worse are those who played dumb, suggesting they purchased the items because there was no clear rule against it. For example, Judy Streatch claimed that her $738 espresso machine was cleared as an appropriate use of funds at the time. As taxpayers, Judy, we do not clear it. If you needed coffee, you should have stopped at Tims and paid for it yourself.
It is somewhat encouraging to see the premier commit to tightening up the spending guidelines, but it would have meant more if he had done so before being caught making inappropriate expenditures himself. Laptop computers and digital cameras could be considered legitimate tools for an MLA's work, but spending $5,501 and $2,150 on them respectively is more than excessive. Like the premier, most were apologetic after they were caught.
We also cannot let the Liberals off the hook, as Wayne Gaudet's hiring of his brother to sand his parking lot is even against the existing rules, which a veteran MLA like him must have been well aware of.
Cynical about politicians and our system? We don't blame you.