Hudak insisting he didn't approve housing claim
Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak insisted Monday that he didn't approve a controversial housing allowance claimed by his ousted finance critic.
Peter Shurman has said that Hudak approved his claim for $20,719 last year to subsidize his Toronto apartment after moving to Niagara-on-the-Lake. But Hudak denied it.
``Did I approve these expenses? No,'' the Opposition leader said.
``Was I aware he was billing all these expenses to the taxpayers? No.''
When Shurman refused to pay back the money, Hudak said he removed him as the Tory finance critic.
``He said no, he made his decision,'' Hudak said of his Sunday talk with Shurman. ``I made my decision. He's no longer finance critic.''
Hudak acknowledged that Shurman didn't break the technical rules, but said elected officials are held to a higher standard when there's such importance around accountability in the province.
Shurman apologized Friday for suggesting he needed to claim the allowance because his $112,000 salary wasn't a lot of money, but insisted he was honest.
The MPP, who represents the Toronto-area riding of Thornhill, said he won't be billing taxpayers for his apartment any more.
Liberals and New Democrats have sharply criticized Shurman, saying he's been using the money to pay for his retirement home, which the Tory denies.
All three parties say the rule on Toronto accommodation allowances needs to be changed and have asked the Speaker for a special committee meeting as soon as possible.
Members of all three parties can claim the housing expense if their primary residence is more than 50 kilometres from the legislature in downtown Toronto. Cabinet ministers and opposition
leaders can claim up to $21,719.