Taiwan came out as the top travel destinations for MPs — when it didn’t come out of their own pockets or the government’s coffers — in 2014.
On Thursday ethics commissioner Mary Dawson released the annual list of sponsored travel for MPs. In total, 60 MPs raked up $442,524 in free travel over the past year.
Members of Parliament are required, as a rule under the conflict of interest act, to disclose to the ethics commissioner any travel that exceeds $500 in cost and that are not “wholly or substantially” paid from by a government revenue fund, their own personal funds or by any interparliamentary or friendship group.
In the 2014 calendar year, there were 17 trips to Taiwan. The cost of most of these were covered by the Chinese International Economic Cooperation Association.
MPs, including Russ Heibert, Bruce Hyer, Dominic LeBlanc, Bev Shipley and Peter Goldring, made trips to Taipei over the past year, either on parliamentary delegations or on trips to assess or learn about trade and economic opportunities in Taiwan.
Taiwan has an active presence in Ottawa. The Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office, with an office in the nation’s capital, acts somewhat like an embassy and works to boost ties between Taiwan and Canada.
Taiwan’s national day parties, hosted by TECO’s head in Ottawa Bruce Linghu, are often very well attended. The celebration in 2014 at Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier had a number of cabinet ministers, including Defence Minister Jason Kenney and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.
Out of the party leaders in the House of Commons, Tom Mulcair and Elizabeth May made it onto the sponsored travel list.
Mulcair, leader of the NDP, took a trip to Las Vegas in August with executive assistant George Smith to speak at the United Steel Workers International conference. The trip was sponsored by USW International.
Green Party leader Elizabeth May took two sponsored trips solo. One was to Calgary for a TEDx event, paid for by the TEDx organizing committee, in June.
May took another voyage to Greece, paid for by the Green Party of Greece, to, according to Dawson’s report “raise awareness of organization’s effort to protect national park forest from destruction by Canadian mining corporation.”