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MPs can't buy iPads on taxpayer dime - for now

Apple store employees are silhouetted as they wait to help customers with iPad purchases in Vancouver on May 28, 2010.

DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Your company won't fork out for a sexy iPad? You're not alone.

Canada's 308 members of Parliament have been told they must dig into their own pockets if they want to buy one of the hottest tech devices on the market.

A Parliamentary committee that oversees MP spending has ruled against a proposal to let federal politicians use taxpayers cash to buy iPads.

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"After discussion, the board agreed not to allow the purchase of iPads as an expense against the member's office budget," the Board of Internal Economy ruled in a November, 2010, decision disclosed Friday.

Liberal MP Marcel Proulx, a spokesman for the board, said the problem is that Parliament Hill's information technology division is geared to Microsoft products and can't offer support for the Apple tablet today.

"If I was to call the Hill help desk and say I have a problem with my iPad, they'd say 'Too bad for you. We don't know anything about iPads," Mr. Proulx said.

"The House system is totally based on Microsoft."

Mr. Proulx said plenty of MPs have bought iPads with their own money - himself included - but they have been cautioned by Hill administrators to ensure they buy an extended support warranty so they get computer help via Apple.

MPs including Treasury Board President Stockwell Day use the tablet devices in the House of Commons during Question Period.

Mr. Proulx said he expects this policy will change in the future as the Commons IT department builds up a familiarity with the iPad.

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He said right now MPs are also discouraged from buying Apple desktops or laptops.

"Everybody is on the Microsoft infrastructure."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

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