Thursday, May 29, 2014

Satellite party offices: NDP obfuscation not helpful

Eefforts by federal New Democrats to explain and rationalize their scheme to use taxpayer money to fund party operations in Quebec, Toronto and Saskatchewan seem to be failing.

The Dippers—as most readers know by now—have set up a satellite office in Montreal that allegedly violates parliamentary spending rules. The office housed both party workers and government-paid workers who are supposed to work exclusively on non-partisan constituency work. Furthermore, the Montreal office was signed as an NDP office with its party logo, according to reliable media reports from multiple sources.

Moreover, NDP MPs allegedly used their free mailing privileges to distribute partisan messages in four ridings just before by-elections were called. A very definite no-no.

When faced with questions about these practices, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and other New Democrats, have maintained the Speaker approved their schemes.

The Huffington Post reported, for example, that Mr. Mulcair said the following about the bulk mailings, “We checked and double-checked with the Speaker before going that route.” That reportedly was said in March. And in April, deputy leader Megan Leslie reportedly said, “We got approval from the Speaker,” when commenting about the satellite offices.

Now The Canadian Press is reporting that the Speaker of the House of Commons has contradicted these NDP claims. According to CP:

Andrew Scheer said Thursday that no one checked with him about New Democrat MPs using free parliamentary mailing privileges to send partisan missives into four ridings just before byelections [sic] were called.”

Scheer made his remarks in answer to questions he faced at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. Again according to CP:

Similarly, he [Scheer] said the NDP did not check with him about pooling the Commons budgets of MPs to pay for staff working in satellite party offices in Montreal, Quebec City and Toronto.”

I’ll simply say nobody checked with me personally or anyone in my office,” Scheer reportedly said.

So, are NDP leaders lying?

If so, this is a serious breach of the trust Canadians are supposed to have in their parliamentarians. Or is such mendacious behaviour now to be considered acceptable?

Readers will, of course, make up their own minds about who is being truthful here, but, personally, I’m accepting House speaker Andrew Scheer’s version. He’s always struck me as being an honourable man.

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