Can you imagine? $34,000 in phone charges from Lebanon....
I don't believe there wasn't a cheaper way to make phone calls from Lebanon...
A Bloc Quebecois MP who once accused Israel of war crimes racked up more phone charges than any other MP last year, largely the result of a trip to Lebanon.
However, Maria Mourani says the $34,205 tab is justified because it allowed her to keep in touch with her office during the month long trip that she paid for out of her own pocket.
An analysis by Sun Media of spending by MPs on telephones during the past year, shows a wide range in just how much individual Parliamentarians spend to get the job done.
Between April 2008 and March 2009, MPs charged the House of Commons $3.7 million for phone calls, phone lines and wireless devices such as BlackBerrys — up more than 9% from $3.4 million in 2007/08.
That doesn’t include the cost of ministerial BlackBerrys and phone calls that are picked up by their departments.
The cost to taxpayers of MPs reaching out and touching someone has jumped sharply in recent years. In 2004/05, before BlackBerrys cropped up across the Hill, the bill for telephone services for all MPs was only $491,024.
Some of the biggest spenders when it comes to picking up the telephone are often MPs from different ethnic communities or who have a deep interest in international affairs.
Mourani, an MP of Lebanese origin, made headlines in 2006 when she travelled to Lebanon with a group of MPs not long after that country’s bloody conflict with Israel. Mourani accused Israel of war crimes — an accusation she later retracted.
Mourani said she went to Lebanon last August to follow up on what has happened since.
While Parliament encourages MPs to use a calling card when travelling to reduce costs, Mourani said it doesn’t work in Lebanon.