OTTAWA – Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau couldn’t have been any clearer when he said he never billed taxpayers a dime while he was moonlighting as a professional speaker and charging upwards of $20,000 in fees to schools and charities.
Turns out Trudeau did bill taxpayers three times for the sum of $840.05 he said Thursday. He returned to the Receiver General in early December after the House of Commons caught him billing $672.00 in transportation costs to Kingston, Ont., on April 25, 2012, for work unrelated to his MP responsibilities.
Trudeau chalked up the double-dipping to human error because the original bill had already been paid by the agency that handles his speaking duties.
But no alarm bells went off when the same travel company he uses for MP travel sent the same invoice to his office that he ultimately approved.
It wasn’t until House officials questioned the claim that he realized there was a problem and returned the money, he said.
“It was an honest mistake made in the administration of my office.”
The other bills totalled $168.05 and were for two per diems he charged taxpayers while returning to Montreal from other Ontario speaking engagements – one dated Nov. 6, 2009, and the other May 7, 2010.
He said he discovered those improper filings after instructing his office to dig deeper into his expenses.
“As a member of Parliament I take full, personal responsibility for the financial administration of my office, including these errors,” he said.<