Transparency is good, but councillors should still tighten up on their expenses

It’s good that city councillors’ expenses are transparent, but we should expect a bit more self-discipline and maybe some tighter rules about what they’re allowed to do. For one thing, some councillors do a lot of advertising.

They argue it’s to make sure residents know who to call, but some of the marketing is beyond basic awareness and it’s clearly about promoting the councillor’s brand for the next election. After all, any taxpayers who don’t know their councillor can always call 311 or look it up on the Internet. Secondly, taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for the guest of a councillor to attend an event. And finally, councillors shouldn’t be donating money from their office budgets to local charities, and doing so in their names.

If taxpayers want to support a philanthropic cause, we can do that ourselves, not through our councillor and without our approval. There’s something strange about the way we respond to the money that politicians hand out. We often give them too much credit, as though the cash was coming from them and not from us. Transparency is good but tighter control would help too. It’s not a lot of money, but it would show respect for taxpayers.

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