NDP blasts government over overtime payouts to cabinet minister chauffeurs

The NDP evoked the spirit of Batman in Parliament Wednesday after a CTV News report revealed chauffeurs of Conservative cabinet ministers were raking in thousands of dollars in overtime.

According to the report, drivers of the 37 cabinet ministers averaged more than $20,000 in overtime on top of their base salaries which ranged between $46,883 and $50,755.

Public Works and Government Services Minister Rona Ambrose's driver cashed in the most, billing the government $40,074 for more than 1,000 overtime hours.

The total overtime tab from April 2010 to March 2011 was over $600,000.

"For crying out loud, even Batman drove his own car," NDP MP Chalie Angus wailed in the House of Commons Wednesday.

"This is a government that's telling Canadians that the cupboard is bare, it's telling seniors they're going to work an extra two years. So if you're going to talk the talk, they need to walk the walk," he later told reporters.

Liberal ethics critic Scott Andrews told Postmedia News that the queue of ministerial cars, which are normally parked in front of the House of Commons during question period, were absent Wednesday from their usual spots.

"We noticed today they're all hiding out around back," he said. "They're afraid to roll into Parliament in their black little limos today."

Andrews said the 37-member cabinet - the second-largest in Canadian history - should share cars and drivers, use the free parliamentary buses or walk once in a while.

Treasury Board President Tony Clement, whose driver charged taxpayers to be on "standby" for 6,548 hours in 2010/11, defended his use of chauffeurs but told reporters Wednesday that the practice will be reviewed.

"We have to consider: are there better ways to manage the cars and drivers of ministers and deputy ministers?" he said, according to CTV.

Top three overtime pay-outs for cabinet minister drivers:

1. Rona Ambrose: $40,074

2. Dianne Finlay: $37,823

3. Jim Flaherty: $34,941

(Getty Images)