IN THE NEWS ~ Peter Julian discusses why he maxed out his MP expense budget

Published on: July 3, 2015 | Last Updated: July 3, 2015 1:04 PM EDT

NDP House leader Peter Julian.

NDP House leader Peter Julian. Justin Tang / THE CANADIAN PRESS

If there’s one line of questioning from a reporter that seems destined to go unanswered, it appears to be any query that begins with: “So, I was hoping to talk to you about your MP living expense budget.�

 

Despite our best efforts, we were unable to find many members willing to share the details of their spending plan. Until, that is, we got a call from New Democrat MP Peter Julian — who was one of the 20 MPs who spent the full $28,000 allowance last year — who was only too happy to explain how he used that money.

Julian spent just more than $14,000 on rent and cable for his Ottawa-area residence. The remaining money from his allowance went to defray expenses incurred while on the road, he told the Ottawa Citizen – including between $7,000 and $7,500 that were used to support his ongoing efforts to raise awareness about the disability tax credit. He travels across the country to hold hold open house-style information sessions about the credit.

“This is a disability tax credit that the Conservatives announced,� he notes. “A few years ago, they actually stopped sending Revenue Canada people out to tell families that have a person who’s disabled about the credit.�

As a result, he says, “most of the families who could benefit from this tax credit don’t even know it exists, and the government actually doesn’t do anything to help these families apply for money that the government owes them.â€�

One family coming out of that presentation can collect as much as $13,000 retroactively, he says.

“We’re talking about some of the poorest families in the country,� he says. “We usually get 150 to 200 people out in public meetings.

“These families suddenly understand how to apply it … you can imagine what a difference this makes in their lives.�

He says he does between 50 and 60 presentations a year – mostly, but not exclusively in ridings held by New Democrat MPs.

“I drive myself, I stay in cheap motels,� he notes.

Even after using his travel budget to subsidize some of the costs, he says he spends between $8 – 9,000 out of his own pocket.

“I just feel so strongly about this.�