While I applaud the QMI Agency and Althia Raj for their interest in the Senate over the past few months, unfortunately this interest has taken the form of sensational and exaggerated reporting.
The latest is the suggestion that we have “given ourselves the right to pepper the country with mailings.” No new rights have been given to anyone, but rather the rules as to acceptable content were clarified. Senators have a right to communicate with the people that they represent and over the years some Senators have chosen to use newsletters to do so. A print run is usually less than 3,000 - hardly enough to “pepper the country.” A grand total of 24 newsletters were printed last year.
Contrary to what Ms. Raj wrote, the Senate does not spend $734,000 per year on printing – this is a combined figure for Information and Printing, including broadcasting. Most of the increase she cites reflects a change in where broadcasting costs are reported, a change ironically made to increase transparency. The Senate spends about $90,000 per year on printing, mostly for routine publications such as Hansard, bills and the order paper; very little of it is for newsletters.
Contrary to what Ms Raj reported, citizens did not bombard Senators after they read her article. Rather, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation wrote their own pumped-up version of her article and emailed its supporters asking that they bombard three of us. The Federation also asked its supporters for a donation, leading me to wonder about other objectives.
Unfortunately, this has not been the only bit of exaggerated or inaccurate reporting.
Last month, Ms. Raj began an article on an internal audit by saying that we are globetrotting the world with our spouses. The Senate does not pay for spousal travel abroad, and the audit did not suggest that it does.
Nor does the Senate pay expenses without documentation or oversight.
I would encourage the QMI Agency to be more diligent, and less sensational in its reporting.