Newspaper article The Canadian Press

NDP under Fire for Using Parliament Resources for Partisan Ends

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

NDP under Fire for Using Parliament Resources for Partisan Ends

Article excerpt

NDP takes flak for partisan spending

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OTTAWA - The NDP is coming under fire from all sides for using taxpayer-funded parliamentary resources for partisan purposes.

But NDP Leader Tom Mulcair insists the party has respected all the rules and done nothing wrong.

Government whip John Duncan says the all-party board of internal economy has alerted Elections Canada to bulk flyers sent by New Democrat MPs to voters during two byelections last November, using free parliamentary mailing privileges.

Duncan says the board wants to ensure that the electoral watchdog is aware that the flyers might constitute a campaign expense in the Montreal riding of Bourassa and the Manitoba riding of Brandon-Souris.

Liberals and Conservatives, meanwhile, have asked the internal economy board to investigate the NDP's use of Parliament-funded staff to operate satellite offices in Quebec and Saskatchewan.

Taken together, the Conservatives argue the NDP has demonstrated "a pattern" of abusing taxpayer's money.

Pierre Poilievre, the minister responsible for democratic reform, used the controversy to turn the tables Monday on New Democrat MPs who accuse the government of trying to stack the next election in the Tories' favour through sweeping changes to the Canada Elections Act.

"The NDP should start coming clean about taxpayer-funded resources that it has been employing to illegally finance campaigns," Poilievre told the House of Commons.

"It should come clean about all of that illegal money. It should pay it back to taxpayers and it should admit that it represents a violation of the Canada Elections Act."

At issue are flyers sent by various New Democrat MPs to constituents in Brandon-Souris and Bourassa, calling for abolition of the Senate and slamming Prime Minister Stephen Harper's record on reforming the upper chamber. The mailings were authorized by the NDP's official agent, which suggests they were partisan material, but used free parliamentary mailing privileges.

Mulcair said the byelections had not been called when the flyers were mailed out, although he acknowledged they might have arrived in mailboxes in the ridings after the campaigns were underway. …

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