Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tasha Kheiriddin: Mulcair’s turn in the ethics spotlight

After staking out the ethical high ground on the Senate Scandal, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has been caught in an imbroglio of his own, involving the misuse of taxpayer funds for partisan political purposes. Not surprisingly, both the Liberals and Conservatives are having a field day with the story.
Apparently, the NDP has been running a satellite office in Montreal employing both party workers and Parliamentary personnel.
Apparently, the NDP has been running a satellite office in Montreal employing both party workers and Parliamentary personnel. Rent for the office was paid for by the party, but employees were on the payroll of MPs. The office also shared space with partisan staffers, who, according to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, sold party memberships, a charge the NDP denies. Conservative MP Blake Richards furthercharged that the office improperly was “being used for party purposes, fundraising seminars that they held, and being used as the address of some of their riding associations, for example.”
Mulcair has been summoned to explain the situation to the House of Commons Committee on Procedure and House Affairs on May 15. The NDP leader denies all impropriety, and in a defense only a socialist could muster, said the two teams were so separate they even belonged to two different unions. “Our parliamentary staff has only ever done parliamentary work. Our political staff does political work and the two never criss-cross,” Mulcair told the Huffington Post.
But if anyone thinks that they can put up a Chinese Wall in such an environment, they’re kidding themselves. It is completely unrealistic to assume that business will not bleed over from the government side to the political side, and vice versa, even if only in simple watercooler conversation. Hey, I’m organizing a photo op for MP so-and-so in the Montreal Metro, do you know anyone at the Service de Transport I could call? Oh, and might your office assistant pick up some stuff from the printer, ours is off sick today? And so on.
Indeed, if the workplace were so neatly divided, why did a senior NDP official feel compelled to tell the House of Commons that employees were actually working in the nation’s capital? When House of Commons clerk Audrey O’Brien asked on October 13, 2011, “whether the employees would be working in Ottawa or in another office and commute between the two”, Jess Turk-Browne, Chief of staff to then-interim leader Nycole Turmel, responded “In Ottawa.” Around the same time, email exchanges refer to the NDP’s “Montreal employees,” with NDP human-resources co-ordinator Marie-Dominique SicĂ© even complaining that said employees’ paycheques were not being sent to their home addresses in Montreal.

Source - Nationalpost
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