Newly elected Edmonton City Councillor, Don Iveson (left), recently returned from Bali, Indonesia where he attended the UN Climate Change Conference.
As we like to do here at the CTF, we plunked down our $25 and FOIP'd Councillor Iveson's travel expenses.
What we received can be found HERE.
The total cost of the trip to Edmonton taxpayers was $3,181.20.
The breakdown is as follows:
Return Airfare to Bali - $2,044.94
Hotels - $585.38
Per diem - $450.00
Taxis - $61.00
Exchange of foreign money - $29.28
Wi-fi access at hotel - $10.60
First the good news: Councillor Iveson flew economy class! Generally speaking most politicians refuse to fly at anything less than business class, especially if they are traveling internationally. Iveson should be commended for looking out for the taxpayers by flying economy. A quick check on expedia.ca suggests Iveson probably saved taxpayers $2,200 by not flying Business class. Kudos to him.
Second, the confusing part: It's unclear how the hotel situation worked, as page 2 shows Mr. Iveson booked into a $405 USD per night villa for the entire trip (including December 7th - the night he was flying), page 4 shows him booked into a $259 USD "deluxe suite" for the whole time, page 7 shows a night at the Grand Hyatt for approx $213 CDN, page 9 shows a $100 USD charge from the Oasis Resort & Spa marked as "Hotel #2," and page 10 shows a one night stay at the booking from page 4.
Regardless, taxpayers paid out $585.38 in the end for 3 or 4 nights in Bali (his flight home was at 11:55PM on December 11th, so not sure whether he kept the hotel room that evening). For 3 nights that's $195/night, for 4 nights that's $146. Either way, it's not outrageous.
Now the bad news: THE CITY OF EDMONTON FLEW A NEW CITY COUNCILLOR TO BALI FOR AN INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE!!!
What on earth is the City of Edmonton doing spending over $3,000 to fly a brand new city councillor half-way around the world to attend a international climate change conference?
For starters, the City of Edmonton is not responsible for the environment in Canada or Alberta. Environmental regulations, carbon taxes, carbon trading schemes, etc. are determined by the federal government or the provincial government. Whether or not Canada signs onto a climate change treaty is not going to be decided or influenced by a civic politician from Edmonton.
Further, isn't it just a tad hypocritical that the City of Edmonton is so concerned about climate change that they would fly someone half-way around the world to talk about it? Most man-made climate change advocates believe CO2 is contributing to the change of the climate. By their argument, isn't putting someone on a plane to fly to Bali creating CO2 and thereby causing more climate change?
According to the UN's own estimates, 42,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and other pollutants were pumped into the atmosphere during the 12-day conference in Bali. According to environmental author Chris Goodall: "their emissions are probably going to be greater than a small African country."
In fact, according to carbonfootprint.com Don Iveson's flight alone to Bali sent 3.308 tonnes of CO2 into our atmosphere. Could Mr. Iveson not have stayed in Edmonton and watched the proceedings via a web-conference? In fact, could not the entire city council have done the same? It would have not only saved taxpayers money, but not put 3 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.
Moreover, isn't it completely hypocritical for the City of Edmonton to be spending $140,000 on a campaign to tell people who live in the northern-most major city in Canada not to let their cars warm up in the winter, while agreeing to send one of their own on a CO2 spewing plane around the world?
Iveson's trip put as much CO2 into the air as 30 compact cars idling 5 minutes a day for year!
And, isn't it hypocritical of Councillor Iveson to even agree to go on this trip?
He's so concerned about the environment that he wants to make it illegal for Edmontonians to let their frozen cars warm up in -30C weather.
From his website (SEE Magazine - September 6, 2007):
SEE: You'd support a ban on pesticides. Would you also support a ban on idling?
Don Iveson: Yes. I think it was silly that we had to pay for the idling campaign because it would have been a lot cheaper to simply pass the law.... Enough other cities have done it and the sky hasn't fallen.
To his credit he agrees the $140k is a complete waste of money, but when it comes to spewing CO2 his stance is completely hypocritical.
It's not ok to let Edmontonians warm up their cars in the winter because it's harmful to the environment, but it's ok to fly to Bali to attend a conference where the City of Edmonton has no legitimate function?
It seems once again, there's one set of rules for the taxpayers and another for the politicians.