A Toronto-area Progressive Conservative MPP and Tory finance critic, Peter Shurman, represents a riding which is not more than a half-hour drive from the legislature but he has chosen to bill taxpayers for a second residence. Last year, Mr. Shurman acquired the maximum amount allowed under housing allowance, i.e. $20,719, which is aimed at helping representatives of far-flung constituencies to pay for accommodation in Toronto.
Mr. Shurman is legally entitled to receive the funds because he claims a home in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., which is about 150 kilometres away from his riding, as his primary residence. He uses the taxpayer funded money to help pay rent on his Toronto apartment. The move is permitted under provincial rules, which allow any MPP who lives more than 50 kilometres from the “seat of government.”
Mr. Shurman has been identified as the only MPP whose constituency lies inside the 50-kilometre radius, so he is using the money for a second home. During an interview, Mr. Shurman explained that he bought the house in Niagara because he needs somewhere to retire. Inquired about why he chose to use the taxpayers’ money to cover the expenses, Mr. Shurman alleged that he could not pay for two residences without assistance. He elucidated during the interview that “frankly, on the basis of … how we’re paid at the legislature, I can’t afford two houses,” adding that “I make $112,500 a year. Some people think that’s a lot of money. To do what I have to do, or any MPP has to do, it’s not very much at all.”
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