OTTAWA - Embattled Old Port of Montreal president Claude Benoit is defending her personal expenses at the Crown Corp., saying the popular tourism site has been the victim of a smear campaign.
Benoit is appearing before a House of Commons committee that is scrutinizing her spending, including $11,000 a year in rental-car fees and a pricey trip to Australia and New Zealand.
Details of Benoit's expenses were splashed across the front page of the Journal de Montreal last month and spurred the NDP to call for the parliamentary review.
Both Conservative and New Democrat MPs are asking pointed questions of Benoit about her spending, suggesting it is out of line with what taxpayers expect.
Benoit took a month-long personal trip to Australia and New Zealand in late 2008 and early 2009, during which she says she worked for 10 days and properly billed the Old Port for her expenses.
But MPs focused on the fact that she had expensed a portion of a cruise-ship voyage to New Zealand saying she had visited some sites of interest to the corporation, but did not actually meet with any local officials there.