Five questions about the Leslie moving expense furor

Former Canadian Forces lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie - and federal Liberal advisor and prospective star candidate - is being attacked by the Harper Conservatives for claiming $72,000 in retirement moving expenses under a policy that applies to RCMP officers and the military.
The Intended Place of Residence policy covers retiring Mounties and military personnel for one last move after they retire. The idea is that if you end your career in Newfoundland, but want to move back to be closer to your grandkids in Saskatoon, the government will pick up the cost. It�s a reward for accepting a series of transfers over the course of a career.
But the Leslie case raises some questions.
1) Was the information about Leslie�s expenses a political smear engineered by the Conservatives? CTV News broke the story, saying it had �obtained� documents on the moving expenses. But the TV network did not say how it got the documents, or from whom. That should be part of the story.
2) Is the Conservative government suggesting its policy should be changed, and the costs of a last move should not be covered by taxpayers? If so, why has the change not been made over the eight years the Conservatives have governed?
3) What was Leslie thinking? Just because the benefit is in place doesn�t mean you need to claim it. Leslie was highly paid, over $250,000 a year, and retiring on a pension that most Canadians could only dream about. He decided he wanted a different house in Ottawa. Why did he choose to have taxpayers pick up the costs - moving fees, real estate commissions, property transfer taxes - for what was a personal choice?
4) How much is the policy costing taxpayers? About 3,500 Mounties and Canadian Forces employees are retiring each year.
5) And given that volume, why hasn�t the federal government negotiated a better deal? The largest chunk of Leslie�s expenses were real estate fees. Surely the government, with thousands of moves a year, could get a better deal on real estate commissions.

Honduras seizes 'crime zoo,' animals go hungry

Back in September the Honduran government started seizing the assets of Los Cachiros, an alleged drug and crime organization. The $500 million in seizures included a zoo and resort business the organization had established between San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa. We had meant to go; the TripAdvisor reviews were pretty good.
Uh-oh, I thought, when news of the seizure broke. Those animals were a lot better off in a zoo owned by narcos than one run by the Honduran government, which has demonstrated a consistent lack of competence in almost everything it touches.
Sadly, that seems to be true. La Tribuna reports today that the government agency responsible for seizures has fumbled around with the zoo, with no one consistently responsible. (A Google translate version of the story is here.)
The only money available to feed the animals and maintain the zoo comes from park revenues, which have fallen because there is no advertising or promotion, many people think it was closed after the seizure and it is not being maintained.
The current revenue isn�t enough to cover food and vet care for the animals - tigers, giraffes, zebras and a collection of animals native to Central America.
The government could have put in a trustee to manage the zoo, with a budget to run the business and look after the animals. Or it could have hired a competent management company on contract. Instead there has been a succession of people within government responsible. 
That�s not just bad for the animals. The zoo and resort provided jobs and economic activity in the region. As the government bungles its management, those will be lost.
The seizures from Los Cachiros were co-ordinated with the U.S. government, which had targeted the family-based group under the �Kingpin Act� aimed at foreign crime groups.
The zoo�s struggles raise questions about government management of other assets on the U.S. hit list and apparently seized, like African palm plantations, cattle ranches, hotels and mining and roadbuilding companies.

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