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Lawmakers are sensitive, however, to the perception that their jobs entitle them to trips that many of their constituents will never get, and they do their best to justify the appearance issues.

When Ms. Heitkamp was questioned by local reporters about her Canadian trip last month, she insisted to The Dickinson (N.D.) Press that it was “essential to go to Canada so that I could get a firsthand view of the work being done in the oil sands” so she could better support the pending Keystone XL pipeline project.

She went further in a press release she issued about the trip, saying she expected to bring the United States and Canada closer together.

“This trip will allow me to help strengthen those ties,” she said.

Her constituents will get to decide whether Canadian diplomacy, or the allure of Alberta’s cool summer winds, were worth the senator’s time.