Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dippers at it again?

The sneaky Dippers are apparently, once again, trying to put one over on us. Readers may remember that, following Jack Layton’s death, the New Democrats dreamed up a scheme to issue political tax receipts for donations intended for the Broadbent Institute. This time, they’re using taxpayer money to fund staff in “satellite” offices in Quebec and Saskatchewan.

For both schemes, NDP spokespersons publicly assured Canadians they had cleared their plans in advance. And both times their clever plans were shut down once they came under public scrutiny.

After former NDP leader Jack Layton died in 2011, his family asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Broadbent Institute, a left-wing think tank named after former NDP leader Ed Broadbent. Since the Broadbent Institute lacked tax-status as a charity, however, the donations went through the NDP and were later to be transferred to the think tank.

But here’s the twist: Those who donate to political parties get a 75 per cent tax rebate, while those making donations to registered charities receive only 25 per cent. A nice bonus for those making donations, don’t you think?

Surely the party that wants to govern Canada would have known the difference in tax treatment existed. But it wasn’t until Elections Canada warned the Dippers they were breaking the law that the party arranged for donations to be directed to the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation, another socialist think tank inspired by Tommy Douglas, leader of the New Democratic Party from 1961 to 1971.

I clearly remember NDP insider Brad Lavigne assuring us on TV that his party had received a legal opinion clearing the donation scheme. Some lawyer, eh?

Once again, the NDP is trying to pull a fast one.

The Ottawa Citizen reports that the “NDP has been operating a [sic] satellite party offices, staffed by people on the [House of] Commons payroll, in Montreal and Toronto and has been preparing to open another in Saskatchewan.” And, according to that newspaper:

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has said the offices are designed to help MPs with outreach to their constituents and were approved by the Commons administration.

“He has not explained why such an office would be necessary in Saskatchewan, where the NDP has no MPs, or why the job posting for that office listed campaign experience as an asset.”

Really! No MPs in the province of Saskatchewan, but the Dippers need taxpayer-funded staff for “outreach to their constituents.” Tell me why this is not just a scheme to get Parliament to pay for partisan NDP organizers.

Fortunately, Parliament’s board of internal economy is on to the Dippers and has ordered them not to use parliamentary resources to pay for staff in satellite offices. The all-party board decided that the House of Commons must be the ordinary place of employment for those whose salaries are paid by the Commons. That is, they can no longer work in offices leased or owned by the NDP.

Whether these NDP schemes were intentional attempts to cheat the system I can’t say for sure. I am, nonetheless, quite sure someone in the upper echelons of the NDP should have known better. Surely these tactics don’t have to be illegal by the letter of the law to be understood as being wrong.

Such schemes should pass a reasonable man test before they are implemented. You know, the test that asks how a reasonable person would classify them without reference to the law. Do they seem reasonable under the circumstances or do they seem dubious? Are they morally supportable? Do they pass the smell test? Clearly the two schemes outlined above fail this test.

Sometimes the Dippers can be too clever by half and someone in authority has to reset their moral compass for them—they, obviously, won’t do it for themselves.

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