It seems that Thomas Mulcair can’t handle any punishment, no matter how small.
This week it was announced that the NDP is taking the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy (BOIE) to court for the $1.17 million that the BOIE ruled the New Democrats must pay to the Canada Post and Parliament. These fines come after it surfaced that the NDP spent over a million dollars of the public’s money on partisan mailings, a big ethical no-no.
In the NDP’s application filed with the Federal Court, party leader Mulcair referred to the shadowy BOIE’s ruling as “contrary to the principles of natural justice.” We’re not sure what the laws of nature have to do with sending Canadians partisan advertisements through the mail, but we’ll take Tom’s word for it. The NDP has upheld the claim that they’ve done nothing wrong (or at least nothing that all the other parties don’t do too), and that the Liberals and the Conservatives have teamed up against them to damage the party and possibly beat him up in an alley or something. Mulcair accused the BOIE of running a “kangaroo court”, which we must admit, sounds adorable.
The penalty the BOIE has given to the NDP is relatively small. In fact, they’re pretty much just being asked to pay for services rendered, and not being fined or otherwise punished for this misconduct. That’s not even punishment, that’s just paying your tab. That isn’t to say that $1.17 million is a small sum, but the punishment could have been a lot worse. According to a report from Elections Canada, the NDP has the money on hand to pay, and once they do, there would likely be no further repercussions. Despite the wishes of the Tories and the Grits to keep this in the public memory for ages to come, everyone would probably forget about this incident really quickly.
Yet for some reason, Mulcair just won’t let us forget. By taking the BOIE’s decision to court, he’s making it into much more of a spectacle than it needs to be, which makes us wonder why a smart cookie like Mulcair might be doing this.
Perhaps Tom is worried about the pending investigation into his satellite offices in Montreal and Quebec City that could cost the party even more money, and figures if he can avoid one major fee, it’s more likely the NDP will stay afloat. It could be that he just really enjoys a good fight and has been bored while the Conservatives hit Justin over the head with attack ads. Or that the by-election losses made him really antsy.
In a more serious way, maybe it’s the board itself that Mulcair has problems with. The NDP leader has been the BOIE’s most vocal critic in Parliament, often lashing out at them for their secrecy. Last month, after Trudeau announced his private member’s bill on transparency, Mulcair applauded the Liberal leader’s proposal and suggested that the two of them play hooky on that day’s BOIE meeting. Justin declined the offer.
So maybe Mulcair thinks that if he exposes the BOIE for misconduct in court it’ll be a catalyst for the board’s eventual reform. We don’t know. What we do know, however, is that this has not been great press for the NDP.