The campaign in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast riding got a little livelier last week when Liberal candidate Blair Wilson ran with news of an investigation into the travel costs of Conservative MP John Reynolds.
The investigation was initiated by, Elbert K. Paul, a Liberal supporter and a chartered accountant from Bowen Island who wrote a letter to Auditor General Sheila Fraser asking her to "determine whether there is a basis for an audit" of Reynoldss travel costs.
Paul compared the travel costs of Reynolds to Keith Martin, who is a former Canadian Alliance MP in B.C. now running as a Liberal, and, according to Paul, the difference was $140,000.
"I was greatly concerned to discover that the travel costs of my elected representative, John Reynolds, were $193,184 for fiscal March 2003 and $192,198 for fiscal March 2002," wrote Paul in his letter to Fraser.
"In comparison the travel costs for the Honourable Keith Martin were $49,554 and $58,368 for fiscal March 2003 and March 2002."
Paul said in an interview later that he was angry that, despite his travel costs, Reynolds had not visited Bowen Island since the 2000 election.
He added that he had also taken grave exception to Reynoldss harsh comments on former Prime Minister Joe Clark.
"All I want to know is, from the perspective of the financial administration act, whether theyre eligible expenses or whether there could be improvements for a taxpayer or a constituent and if theres not, then theres not a problem," he said.
Paul admitted he had worked with the auditor generals department and as a consultant to the treasury board.
Paul forwarded copies of his letter to several media organizations in the corridor as well as Wilsons campaign office, but he did not send a copy to Reynoldss office.
Wilsons campaign issued a release referring to Pauls letter and Wilson raised questions about Reynolds travel costs in media interviews.
Reynolds was in Whistler last Monday and was happy to address Pauls letter and Wilsons campaign tactics.
"Its a set up from Mr. Paul and Mr. Wilson to try and embarrass me but they did not give out all the facts," said Reynolds.
"I read Mr. Wilsons comments in the paper this morning about how you can spend that much money travelling. Well he obviously hasnt looked at the speakers list, which is published every year and every year MPs in British Columbia are highest on the list, especially those who work hard.
"There is at least half a dozen Liberals that are much higher than I am some as high as $300,000 a year and its interesting to me that Mr. Wilson didnt think that their travel was undue.
"He compared me to Keith Martin over on the island, well Keith hasnt made a vote in the House of Commons in the first six months of this year and I regularly attend.
"You know, its politics when you dont want to talk about the sponsorship scandal and corruption in your own government and then you try and attack somebody."
A spokesperson for the auditor generals office said an investigation of Reynolds expenses was done but because the request came from a private individual the results remain private.
Rather than investigate his travel expenses Reynolds said he wanted to see the outcome of the sponsorship scandal.
"Its one thing for the auditor general to check my expenses but I want the answer to her question as to where the $250 million went in the sponsorship scandal," he said.
"Why did they call the election before we got the results of that? The governments corrupt and theyre going to use anything they can to try and smear good peoples reputation, but theyre not going to win.
"If the best thing Mr. Wilsons got is my travel then I feel really sorry for him."
Wilson maintained that he did not know about Reynoldss travel costs until Paul released his letter.
"The real issue hear is accountability," said Wilson.
He said his phone had been "ringing off the hook" because a number of constituents were concerned with Pauls letter.
Wilson suggested the government should publish their expense reports on the Internet so the public would be able to see exactly what their elected officials are spending their money on.
"I think changing the way elected officials spend money would depend on how and when they have to file their expense reports," he said.
"I think youll find that if the reports were made public the costs of governing would go down."