Ex-Tourism Montreal boss grilled over excessive spending
Published Monday, February 10, 2014 9:43PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 11, 2014 7:44AM EST
MNAs want to know how the former head of Tourism Montreal didn't know how much he was spending and why he was getting tax refunds.
Charles Lapointe, the former CEO of Tourism Montreal, spent Monday afternoon at the National Assembly as MNAs questioned his expenses at the agency.
Lapointe served as the agency’s boss for 24 years until last fall, leaving at an annual salary of nearly $400,000. He was also given a severance package of more than $500,000, all on the taxpayers’ dime.
Lapointe, 69, faced a barrage of questions from all political sides, admitting only a slight problem.
“I should have been more attentive,” he said, admitting helost track of some of the bills for his expenses.
Auditor General Michel Samson said Lapointe charged the agency for $44,000 in meals and drinks for a two-year period.
Lapointe defended the spending, saying he had to ‘wine and dine’ clients with expensive meals when you’re selling Montreal.
Lapointe said he didn't realize he was getting a $10,000 annual car allowance and didn't realize he deducted $64,000 in taxes for charity even though the agency reimbursed him for that amount.
The general consensus from all parties is that Tourism Montreal did a good job with Montreal's tourism industry, pulling in $2.5 billion last year.
PQ MNA Guy Leclair said Lapointe's explanations sound fishy.
“When you ask questions to those people, they don't even know. They're not sure who's looking for the bills,” he said.
Former Liberal tourism minister Nicole Menard said she is worried, but she still has faith in Tourism Montreal.
“It really surprised us. What I can say? We trust them and we still trust them,” she said.
An all-party committee will make recommendations by February 18, but so far there’s a clear consensus the rules for Tourism Montreal will need to become much tighter.