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When it comes to boosting transparency surrounding travel and hospitality expenses, the Senate could learn a valuable lesson from Alberta.

The provincial government has published remarkably detailed expense reports for the past month, giving line-by-line details on everything from international flights to bus fare. The database contains more than 35,000 records dating back to Oct. 1, 2012, with expenses totalling more than $2.8-million.

It’s the kind of transparency rarely seen from governments. The Senate publishes quarterly reports, but they do not publish individual records. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau pledged to start publishing travel and hospitality expenses for MPs, Senators and staff — the first such move from a national party leader. The system, once implemented, will look a lot like Alberta’s, with a searchable database that lets the public "actually get to the heart of concerns anyone might have," Mr. Trudeau said in an announcement Wednesday.

In Alberta's case, it’s possible to see several trends in the data. Premier Alison Redford, for example, has very expensive tastes in travel. Her return trip from Washington, D.C. cost $5,673.70 in airfare on United Airlines. A search for similar dates shows United is by far the most expensive airline, with a first class trip costing $3,042. Delta Airlines offered a similar one-stop first-class flight for $1,902, while economy trips go as low as $506. On a return trip to Chicago, Ms. Redford expensed $6,902.95 in airfare while a receipt for her executive assistant claims he switched from business to economy class, saving $2,436.93 in travel costs. Even a two-day trip from Calgary to Toronto cost the Premier $4,585.66 in return airfare.

The most expensive jet-setters were MLA Cal Dallas, intergovernmental relations minister, and his chief of staff Jeff Henwood. The pair expensed a 10-day trip to the Middle East for a series of energy conferences and government meetings, journeying from Calgary to Abu Dhabi, then to Bahrain a week later, then to Kuwait the following day, and finally home to Calgary three days later. The flights cost $29,036.16 and the pair billed several thousand in hotels, meals, laundry and other costs during the trip.

On the other end of the spectrum, one quarter of all reports are for $10 or less, including a $3 tip after breakfast and $0.84 for parking. Alberta’s public servants also expense meals, including McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, citing meetings, luncheons or other official business. In total, Albertan public servants expensed $64,382 for items costing less than $10, representing 2 per cent of total expenses.

The department with the most expenses was Human Services department, which filed $642,332.26 in travel expenses despite rarely leaving the country.

Some of the expenses may seem peculiar while others are simply the cost of doing business in today's global economy. But publishing these reports in line-by-line detail lets the public and the media dissect them, ask questions and hold public servants to account. While some of the data would be available through Freedom of Information requests, publishing them proactively lets all public servants know they're only a $16 orange juice away from scandal.

Below, search the entire database. You can search by name, description or other fields.

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These searches highlight specific sets of data, including Premier Alison Redford's expenses and those for the ministry of Human Services.

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