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NDP’s Ashton pays back some money from Christmas trip initially billed to taxpayers

NDP’s Ashton pays back some money from Christmas trip initially billed to taxpayers
NDP’s Ashton pays back some money from Christmas trip initially billed to taxpayers

OTTAWA – A new Democratic lawmaker has repaid some of the thousands of dollars she spent on a Christmas trip for herself and her family with public money.

The federal New Democrats said Manitoba MP Niki Ashton has reimbursed the House of Commons government $2,900, part of the more than $17,000 in expenses she incurred during a Christmas Day trip to Quebec City followed by a visit to Montreal .

Public records show Ashton, her husband and two children flew from her home in northern Manitoba to Ottawa on December 21, 2022.

A day earlier, her Ottawa apartment was sprayed for bedbugs, prompting her and her family to travel to the capital to address that “urgent” situation, Ashton said in a statement.

“I then met separately with stakeholders in Quebec,” said Ashton, who often participates virtually in the proceedings of the House of Commons.

The MP did not respond to a request for an interview. News of Ashton’s travels was first reported by CBC News.

Travel reports filed with the House of Commons show that Ashton, her husband and children travelled from Ottawa to Quebec City on Christmas Day “to meet with interested parties concerning the business of the House of Commons.”

Five days later they went to Montreal for the same revealed reason. On December 31, the family traveled back to Ottawa, where they stayed for a few days before returning to Thompson, Man.

Ashton charged $17,641.12 for the trip, including $13,619.90 for transportation, $2,508.39 for accommodations and $1,512.83 for meals and incidentals, expenses show. No details were provided about the $2,900 Ashton returned.

Photos from the trip, posted by Ashton on her Instagram account, show the family sightseeing in Quebec City, including ice skating in a downtown park and attending a Christmas market.

“Thank you Quebec for an unforgettable visit,” Ashton wrote in the group of photos. “Thank you progressive activists for sharing your inspiring work. Thank you to everyone who shared their culture, history and city with us.”

Ashton has not said who she met on her Christmas trip and does not plan to name names.

The Churchill-Keewatinook Aski MP said she refunded the money “to protect the privacy of the stakeholders I met and to ensure they are not exposed to similar abuse.”

Ashton said she and her family have been victims of death threats, harassment and assault as a result of media reports about her travels.

“The discourse around these House-approved trips is a distraction from the important work the New Democrats are doing for Canadians,” Ashton said.

“My team and I are focused on providing support to the people in the Northern and Indigenous communities who are so often left without the resources they need.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2024.

Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press