Housing Allowance Rule Ensures Taxpayer’s Don’t Pay Mortgages for MLAs and Associates

August 2, 2013

NDP MLA Frank Corbett responded to the Auditor General’s report on Liberal MLA Michel Samson’s housing allowance by saying the rule on renting a house would not change as it prevents an elected official from using their housing allowance to pay for mortgages for themselves or their associates.

“The rule requiring MLAs to rent apartments explicitly prevents MLAs from buying property and having taxpayers pay the mortgage and then selling the House, potentially at a profit,” said Corbett. “Former Liberal leader Vince MacLean did this very thing in the 1980s and 1990s. It was controversial then and we are not about to let that happen again to taxpayers.”

Corbett said the government will conduct a review of housing regulations as recommended. The Auditor General concluded Samson lives in both Halifax and Arichat and as a result his residency cannot be the basis of providing a housing allowance to Samson. Samson was deemed an outside member only on the basis of where he votes. Election rules allow MLAs to vote in the riding they are running in even if they do not reside in the riding. The review will clarify the residency requirements.

“The review will make clear that the rule prohibiting paying for a house will stand so that taxpayers are not left paying the mortgage for MLAs or their friends and then have to watch as they profit from the resale of property,” Corbett said.

Samson’s friend, campaign donor and senior campaign fundraiser, Edgar Samson bought a house in 2006 in Halifax. Michel Samson immediately began leasing the house at that time. Under the current rules, amended in 2010, Michel Samson should not have received a housing allowance payment. Corbett said that rule will not change under the review.

“Samson is on the House of Assembly Management Commission, he knows the rules,” said Corbett. “He should not have collected more than $40,000 in housing allowance from 2010 forward and he can only collect an allowance now if he rents an apartment. Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil should order Samson to pay that $40,000 back. He was not eligible to receive it.”

In addition, Corbett expressed serious concern about the Auditor General’s findings that Samson was collecting mileage when he was going on vacation. The Auditor said “we believe such claims are not appropriate. Taxpayers should not pay for transportation from and to Arichat at the start or end of vacation trips.”