CTV Exclusive: Retired general claimed $72K in expenses for move within Ottawa
Published Saturday, February 15, 2014 10:08PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, February 15, 2014 10:14PM EST
One of Canada’s most high-profile military leaders claimed more than $72,000 in expenses, including real estate fees, for a move from his Ottawa home to another residence in the city after he retired, CTV News has learned.
Documents obtained by CTV News show retired general Andrew Leslie, who once led Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, claimed the expenses for a move in 2012.
Leslie retired from the military in 2011, but members of the Canadian Forces are entitled to expense one last move after they retire.
Critics, however, are calling it a “shocking” amount.
“That’s a shocking figure considering that the military is dealing with budget cuts and says they don’t have enough money for wounded soldiers,” said Steven Staples, president of the Rideau Institute, an Ottawa-based research, advocacy and consulting firm.
“To spend that amount to move a general down the street, there’s just something wrong with that,” Staples said.
Ottawa came under fire for closing eight Veterans Affairs offices earlier this year. Veterans protested the decision, saying that closing the offices would hurt their ability to access services. The government has said it would be moving many of the services offered online and will provide a Veterans Affairs specialist at some 600 Service Canada locations across the country.
Pat Stogran, Canada’s former veterans affairs ombudsman, was also critical of Leslie for claiming the expenses.
“It’s terribly demoralizing to be witnessing a general who will reap the benefits for such a paltry move,” he said.
The house Leslie moved to in an upscale neighbourhood in the nation's capital is just a four-minute drive from his former residence, a home that property records show sold for more than a million dollars.
In a statement to CTV News, Leslie was adamant that he did not break any rules.
“The Department of National Defence handles and pays all the costs for packing, shipping… The overwhelming majority of the expense is certainly the real estate fees,” the statement said.
Leslie is expected to run for the Liberals in the next federal election and he is a keynote speaker at the party’s convention next week.
Leslie made headlines in 2011 when he told the Harper government in a landmark report that the Department of National Defence needed to take an axe to its bloated headquarters in order to meet future obligations. The Department of National Defence could not be reached for comment about the moving expenses Leslie claimed in 2012.
With a report from CTV News’ Omar Sachedina