Canada to slash spending by government ministers

Tue Nov 25, 2008 4:50pm EST
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will slash spending by cabinet ministers and other politicians in the wake of media revelations about lavish foreign trips, a top official said on Tuesday.

Kory Teneycke, the chief spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said the Conservative government must show Canadians it can manage the nation's finances in times of economic crisis.

"We will be talking about the need to restrain discretionary spending and that will start at the top," he told reporters, predicting "lots of complaints" from politicians.

"This will be much more deep and much more significant than anyone has speculated to date."

The Toronto Star on Tuesday said former Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl had taken eight aides to Geneva for trade talks in 2006 on a trip that cost C$84,000 ($68,000). Former Environment Minister John Baird took five staff members to Bali last year and racked up a C$61,000 bill.

The opposition Liberals, who accuse Harper of mismanaging the crisis, seized on the report.

"It seems that the only jobs that these Conservatives are willing to protect is in luxury air travel for their ministers," legislator Scott Brison told Parliament.

Government ministers can rest easy in the knowledge that their salaries will not be cut. Teneycke said that "might be a little extreme".

($1=$1.23 Canadian)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Galloway)