Bon Voyage and Do Svidaniya: Globalizing municipal business travel

Finance, administration and operations meets today to consider the 2012 remuneration and expenses report. You may remember last year's edition of this annual reporting obligation for the furore it caused over Mayor David Henderson's 13-per-cent pay raise. (It was, to be fair, the result of a routine adjustment the city has put in place, whereby it measures its elected officials' salaries against those of other municipalities on a comparator list.)

What sticks out this year, at first glance, is the $5,000 the mayor claimed for business trips to Cannes, France and the Siberian region of Zabaikalsky.

At first blush, that's a bargain for two European trips.

Is it me, or is this overseas travel thing becoming commonplace for elected officials in small towns and cities? China beckons, as it always does, and now Russia. Will India, Brazil and South Africa be next? Running a municipality has always been about BRICS and mortar, after all.

Local taxpayers should probably get used to these kinds of jaunts. To attract investment, one has to go where the money is, and lately, Russian oligarchs and Chinese businessmen are where the cash flow is.

The pragmatist will side with Councillor Jason Baker, as quoted in today's R&T. Judge each trip on its individual merits.

And, I would add, let's hope the hosts continue to be willing to pick up most of the tab.

You can find the full report of city council's 2012 remuneration and expenses here.