MLA’s husband travels to Africa on taxpayers’ dime

North Island MLA Claire Trevena didn't respond to the Mirror's phone calls over taxpayer-funded trip

MLA Claire Trevena went to Africa on a government mission and took along her husband

North Island NDP MLA Claire Trevena is not responding to a demand that she repay B.C. taxpayers for the expense of taking her husband on an expensive African junket.

In 2010, taxpayers paid upwards of $60,000 dollars to send Trevena, who was joined by hubby Mike, and two other Legislature officers and their spouses to Kenya for the annual conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Government watchdog Dermod Travis, executive director of Integrity BC, said, “The expenses demonstrate a culture of entitlement.”

He has called on Trevena, Speaker Bill Barisoff and Legislature clerk Craig James to repay their spouses’ share of the trip.

NDP caucus chair Shane Simpson (Vancouver-Hastings) said his party “has no intention” of making Trevena pay back taxpayers. “Her husband was invited.”

Simpson did say that NDP leader Adrian Dix will be reviewing what is “appropriate” on such trips.

Travis’ non-profit organization requested the travel expenses through the Freedom of Information process after receiving a tip about the costs.

When questioned by reporters in the Legislature this week, Trevena said she was “not aware of the cost” of the junket. Asked if the expense was taxpayer money well spent and reasonable she said it is “common practise” to go to conferences like this and “as deputy speaker I was expected to do a number of things.”

The FOI material does not indicate how much it cost Trevena and her husband to fly to Nairobi, however documents handed over by the government show that two business class seats for James and his wife cost taxpayers $14,523. James was acting chief electoral office at the time.

Travis says he’d like to know whether Trevena and her husband travelled business class like James or economy class. Depending on the choice of seats Trevena’s husband’s share of the junket airfare ranges from $3,000 to $7,500.

Trevena did not respond to calls from the Mirror. The former journalist was first elected in 2005 with 45 per cent of the popular vote narrowly beating incumbent Liberal Rod Visser by 600 votes. She was re-elected in 2009 with 52 per cent of the popular vote and has been re-nominated to represent the NDP in the May 2013 election.