Thomas Mulcair has a hearing today. Except, instead of putting the PM on trial as he normally does, Mulcair is the one forced to answer questions. Here’s a rundown: Essentially, the NDP set up a satellite office under Jack Layton’s leadership and Mulcair’s supervision in Montreal. At this office, they had hired parliamentary staff with taxpayer dollars to do “constituency work” alongside party members who were getting out the vote and trying to secure an NDP victory. That means taxpayer funded non-partisan government work right next to super-partisan electoral work, which may be allowed, as long as there was absolutely no overlap. Even still, while Members of Parliament may use government funds to carry out their general parliamentary functions, which includes constituency work, the NDP claims that constituency work does not only need to be done from Ottawa, but can be done from all over Canada, which is an unusual arrangement to say the least.
If that wasn’t enough to ruffle some feathers around Ottawa, Mulcair last month announced that he would set up another satellite office in Saskatchewan, a province with no NDP MPs. So untrustworthy is the claim that these government funded staff would do “constituency work” in a province without an NDP constituency, that new by-laws have been passed with “the effect of preventing employees or contractors whose salaries or fees are paid using House of Commons budgets from working on premises owned, leased or under the control of a political party.” Mulcair insists that he followed the rules to the letter and did absolutely nothing illegal, however his actions were probably still unethical.
It is common sense that one is not allowed to fund political party operations with taxpayer dollars allotted for “parliamentary functions,” and Mulcair insists that this never happened, but the proximity between the piles for ‘NDP registration cards’ and ‘boring parliamentary paperwork’ has certainly raised some eyebrows. In the Montreal office, the building itself was bought and paid by the New Democratic Party, but the people working inside were supposed non-partisan civil servants working on behalf of the MPs. As Mulcair said, the NDP “have done something creative.” Today’s hearing will determine whether parliamentary staff were doing political work, something that is certainly illegal but that Mulcair insists never happened. Creative is good, but is it allowed? We’ll hopefully find out today.
Mulcair, of course, has been entirely forthcoming with the press, and would never degrade them in any way, video below.