A group of five Canadian MP’s have left Canada to begin a week-long visit to the Middle East. This isn’t an official Canadian delegation but rather five individual MP’s whose entire trip is being paid for by a registered non-profit organization called, The Canadian-Muslim Vote (TCMV.)Why are federal MP’s being sponsored to travel? They sure shouldn’t be.Truth be told I didn’t even realize that MP’s could have their travel sponsored by non-profit or for-profit organizations until I read about it recently. So before I’m labelled an islamaphobe, or any number of nasty things, my assertion isn’t based on the fact this particular case was sponsored by TCMV. I’m equally opposed to MP’s accepting travel from The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) or any other organization.I’m of the opinion that our MP’s should not be travelling for any purpose other than government business. Even that should be limited to travel within their riding, back and forth to Ottawa, as a government appointed representative, part of a Canadian foreign delegation, or as an agent of their political party.In all of those cases, their travel should be either at the public expense, or that of their party.In 2022 according to the Office of the Ethics Commissioner, MP’s accepted 55 sponsored trips with a combined declared value of $422,015. From 2007, when the list was first published, to 2019, members accepted on average 83 sponsored trips per year.That is a considerable amount of free outings in a Commons with 338 members. Is there tangible evidence that these MP’s and their expeditions are advancing Canada’s interests? Or is it that MP’s simply enjoy getting these side trips to foreign destinations to attend a conference, deliver a speech, or take a photograph?Is there nothing else that needs addressing within their riding that they are so free to be able to undertake such excursions?In regard to the latter, the NDP’s Heather McPherson stands out among the five MP’s currently abroad.Her riding of Edmonton-Strathcona and that of neighbouring riding of Edmonton-Griesbach (NDP - MP Blake Desjarlais) were the scene of confrontation and tragedy this week. A large number of police were required to remove a large homeless camp, whose residents were primarily indigenous, on the advent of a deadly cold snap.While McPherson did meet with those affected prior to her departure, surely working on the plight of the homeless and vulnerable Canadians in her own riding would take precedence over such a trip? Did she help all the stakeholders get it resolved before leaving?If it were a Conservative held riding you can rest assured that there would be a full-scale media assault on that MP and their callous decision to travel and disregard the needs of their constituents.Additionally, you would think that sponsored travel would pose serious ethical dilemmas for MP’s. Let’s use the use the TCMV sponsored trip as an example since it’s in the news.It’s unlikely that the Liberal and NDP MP’s who were sponsored to travel to Jordan and visit the West Bank and with Palestinian Refugees will return to Canada and laud Israel for its actions.In all likelihood, they’ll report that Palestinians are suffering terribly (which is true.) That Israel is responsible for the ongoing humanitarian crisis (which is false.) And, that Israel should cease hostilities against Hamas immediately (which it should not.) One could hardly expect them to say different. These, after all, were their stated positions before they left. Which begs to the question: what was the point of the trip other than to reinforce and restate their existing perceptions that are also evidently shared by TCMV?Did the MP’s in question, which include Liberal MPs Salma Zahid and Shafqat Ali and New Democrat MP’s Heather McPherson, Matthew Green, and Lindsay Mathyssen, attend the 29 Nov 2023 screening of the raw footage of Hamas’ 07 Oct atrocities that was presented to Canadian parliamentarians? No, not that I find, at least.Perhaps if they had, then they might have at least had firmer ethical ground to stand on before undertaking such a dubious trip.Unfortunately, according to information available on the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, only Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries are prohibited from accepting sponsored travel. Other than that, there are no ethics laws preventing MP’s from accepting sponsored travel. The only stipulation is that any amount over $200 is reported to the Ethics Office to be compiled and published in an annual report for transparency sake.Like the rest of our ethics and conflict of interest laws that govern our elected officials, the oversight and allowance of sponsored travel is a joke, and the practice needs to be abolished.Maybe we can sponsor some MP’s to attend a conference to discuss it — it’s probably the only way they’d attend.