Cariboo-Prince George MP Dick Harris submitted the most expenses last year among the three federal elected representatives from northern B.C.
Harris billed the government more than $515,000 to pay his employees, operate his offices, send information to his constituents and travel to and from Ottawa with his family, which ranked him sixth highest in the country. Prince George-Peace River MP Bob Zimmer spent $461,000 and Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen billed $416,000.
"I'm usually in the top five in B.C. every year since I became an MP," Harris said.
"I think the geographical location of the riding and the size of the riding play a big role in that."
Of the 21 categories the House of Commons listed in the MP expense claims, Harris was the biggest spender among the three in 11 of them.
The largest discrepancy was for travel expenses for a designated traveller, Harris spent $52,000 in that category compared with $6,000 for both Zimmer and Cullen. According to House of Commons guidelines, a designated traveller is "a person other than the member's employees or another member."
Harris said in his case the designated traveller is his spouse and the couple feel it's important to travel together to and from Ottawa.
"It's an important part of your life - probably the most important, even more important than the job itself, is the relationship with your spouse," Harris said.
"We recognize that."
Harris also charged an additional $14,000 for his one child who qualifies as a dependent to travel to and from Ottawa. Cullen and Zimmer both spent $9,000 on travel for dependents.
Harris spent nearly $78,000 on his own travel, slightly more than Cullen's $77,000 and Zimmer's $57,000. However, Harris expects air travel expenses for all MPs to decrease next year as the government has now allowed the members to purchase bulk flight passes.
"There's a tremendous saving that will be realized there in this fiscal year," he said.
Employee salaries and service contracts was the biggest single line item for each of the MPs, with Harris leading the way at $264,000 and Cullen spending the least at $212,000.
"I've certainly had the longest serving staff of most MPs, they're very good and they're paid appropriately," Harris said.
Zimmer led the region in eight of the categories, including the leases on his constituency offices, advertising and some printing expenses.
Cullen had the highest regional expenses in two categories: employee travel and training.
Harris also led the way on telecommunications services and equipment rentals, but had the lowest expenses in the region on advertising office leases.
The expense claims cover the period from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013.