July 20, 2024

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NDP MP Niki Ashton pays back some expenses related to trip with her family

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NDP MP Niki Ashton has paid back some of the expenses related to a trip she took with her family over Christmas — a trip that CBC News first reported on earlier this month.

In a media statement, Ashton said she repaid a portion of the charges she, her husband and two children billed taxpayers as part of a $17,641.12 trip from Thompson, Man. to Ottawa and then Quebec City and Montreal over the holidays to meet with unnamed “stakeholders” in 2022 and early 2023.

Ashton did not say how much she paid back to the federal treasury for the trip. She only said that she “repaid the expenses incurred in Montreal and Quebec City.”

She told a reporter from Canada’s National Observer that the money paid back totalled $2,900.

She said she wouldn’t be paying back some of the other expenses incurred because she needed to bring her husband, former NDP nomination candidate Bruce Moncur, to Ottawa to help her deal with bedbugs in her apartment there.

“I believe in accountability and setting the record straight: I went to Ottawa to deal with an urgent bedbug situation in my building and apartment following spraying on December 20 — this expense was approved by the House of Commons. I then met separately with stakeholders in Quebec,” Ashton said in her statement to CBC News.

While Ashton has refused to say which stakeholders she met with while in Quebec City and Montreal — she said only that it was for discussions with unnamed people about the French language — Ashton said she has repaid the money now to “protect the privacy of the stakeholders I met with.”

WATCH | NDP MP Niki Ashton pressed on family Christmas trip on taxpayer dime 

New Democrat MP Niki Ashton — who’s rarely on Parliament Hill — billed taxpayers $17,000 for travel with family to meet ‘stakeholders’ in Quebec over the Christmas break, parliamentary records show. When questioned, she would not say who those stakeholders were.

Social media posts from the trip show Moncur and the children took in some of Quebec City’s winter attractions, including an ice slide and snow tubing at Village Vacances Valcartier outside the city centre.

Ashton is also seen in those posts skating with her children and visiting the city’s German Christmas Market.

The trip prompted outrage because of how infrequently Ashton has been on Parliament Hill since the onset of the pandemic four years ago.

Parliamentary travel records indicate Ashton was in Ottawa on only one occasion — for four days — during the fall 2022 sitting before the Quebec trip.

She flew to Ottawa five days after the House of Commons had already risen for its Christmas break.

WATCH | NDP MP questioned about Quebec trip with family paid by taxpayers

NDP MP questioned about Quebec trip with family paid by taxpayers

NDP MP Niki Ashton defends that her trip to Quebec over the Christmas holidays in 2022 which included her family was approved by House of Commons. Ashton said she met with linguistic groups on the trip, but would not specifically say which groups.

Ashton told Canada’s National Obsever she is “looking forward” to getting to Ottawa “more often.”

She also said it may be difficult to come back to Ottawa in the fall because she has surgery set for later this year to deal with an ACL injury from skiing.

Ashton said in her statement to CBC News that media reports about her travel led to death threats, harassment and abuse. 

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh defended Ashton when the story came out, saying he expects his MPs to follow the rules and get the House of Commons to approve travel claims. He said that was done in this case. 

In her Monday statement, Ashton said “the discourse around this House of Commons-approved travel has become a distraction to the important work New Democrats are doing for Canadians.”

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