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Government-ethics advocate calls $250,000 in sponsored MP trips ‘unethical’

By Laura Ryckewaert      

'We are parliamentarians. We cannot be bought,' says Conservative leadership candidate Deepak Obhrai, who's claimed two sponsored trips this year, worth more than $15,000 combined.

Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher says the practice of sponsored travel, especially from registered lobbyists, is 'unethical' and should be stopped, but MPs including Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai and NDP MP Peter Julian say such trips are 'beneficial,' particularly for the opposition. The Hill Times Photographs by Cynthia Münster, Andrew Meade and Jake Wright

So far in 2016, about $250,000 of sponsored travel has been declared by MPs, who defend the practice as presenting important opportunities, but Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher says these trips, paid for by interest groups and foreign governments, have undue influence on MPs and should be disallowed. “Giving something to someone or doing something for them is the No. 1 way to influence their decision-making. … In fact, it creates an unethical feeling of obligation to return the favour,”

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