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

A New Democrat member of Parliament has paid back a portion of the thousands of dollars she spent on a Christmastime trip for herself and her family that was paid for with public money.

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

Public expenses show Ashton, her husband and two children flew from her northern Manitoba riding to Ottawa on Dec. 21, 2022.

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

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

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The MP did not respond to a request for an interview. Travel reports filed with the House of Commons show Ashton, her husband and kids had travelled from Ottawa to Quebec City on Christmas Day “to meet with stakeholders about business of the House.”

Click to play video: 'MP Niki Ashton calls on military support for northern Manitoba first nations'

MP Niki Ashton calls on military support for northern Manitoba first nations

Five days later they went to Montreal for the same disclosed reason. Then on Dec. 31 the family travelled back to Ottawa where they stayed for a few days before returning to Thompson, Man.

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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. There were no details provided about the $2,900 Ashton returned.

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

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

Ashton has not said who she met with during her Christmastime trip and has no plans to share names.

The Churchill—Keewatinook Aski MP said she paid back the money “in order to protect the privacy of the stakeholders I met with and to ensure that they were not subject to similar abuse.”

As a result of media reports around her travel, Ashton said she and her family have been subjected to death threats, harassment and abuse.

“The discourse around this House of Commons-approved travel has become a distraction to the important work New Democrats are doing for Canadians,” Ashton said.

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

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