Letters to the Editor

We must be vigilant about spending

Editor: MLA Jenny Kwan didn’t ask her husband where the money came from to go on family vacations to Disneyland, the U.K. and Vienna. She thought he was paying for the trips personally.

They say there are two types of people in this world — those who like cats and those who like dogs — but I think the two types are married people who share a bank account, and married people who don’t.

I wish my wife had such blind trust in my spending, but she looks over our Visa bill as though Waldo is hiding somewhere on it. I find this odd because she does most of the spending. When a thief recently stole her credit card, I didn’t report it to anyone, since I felt the thief might spend less.

My wife and I made the decision to share a bank account without thinking about it. It just happened, like our children. That’s the way our parents had operated. Yet my wife’s sisters have separate bank accounts. Some of their expenses are kept secret from their husbands, and some of their husbands’ expenses are kept secret from them. Their marriages are like Mad Magazine’s Spy vs. Spy.

To my way of thinking, it’s good for couples to budget together. When the left hand in a marriage is not aware of what the right hand is doing, there can be problems. So it’s not surprising that Kwan and her husband are no longer together.

Housing Minister Rich Coleman — whose very name might suggest he’s gotten wealthy in politics — says there was no criminal activity at Vancouver’s Portland Hotel Society, where public funds were used for family vacations, business class tickets, limos and spas. In other words, all’s good unless the public knows.

The NDP’s caucus chair, Shane Simpson, defended his political colleague by saying that “Jenny has told us that she is not aware of other trips, and I accept that.” Well, Jenny’s proven that she is not aware of all that much.

Legislature speaker Linda Reid also pretends to be unaware of a lot of things. After she flew her husband to South Africa and put him up in nice digs on the taxpayer’s dime, she declared that she’s not aware of any other such trips for her husband. She added “If this caused anyone any consternation, I sincerely apologize.”

George Costanza on Seinfeld uses the same denial trick in an episode where he is caught having sex with a cleaning lady on his office desk: “Was that wrong?” he asks his boss. “I tell you, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing. Because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing is frowned upon, cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices, and I tell you, people do that all the time.”

As the son of a former provincial cabinet minister, I can recall being driven to hockey games and ski hills by my dad’s chauffeur. I know politicians still get the government to pay for daily meals for themselves and “business” friends. Taxpayers have to stop repeat offenders by not re-electing them.

We have to be vigilant about what people are spending — starting with our spouses.

Jim McMurtry,




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