Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Liberals Seek Probe of NDP MPs' Allegedly Improper Use of Riding Offices

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Liberals Seek Probe of NDP MPs' Allegedly Improper Use of Riding Offices

Article excerpt

Probe sought into NDP use of riding offices

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OTTAWA - The secretive body that ordered New Democrats to reimburse almost $4 million in allegedly misspent parliamentary resources is being asked to investigate a new allegation of improper spending by NDP MPs: the use of taxpayer-funded constituency offices to campaign for re-election.

Liberal MP Marc Garneau wants the multi-party board of internal economy to conduct a thorough investigation into what he believes is a "widespread and apparently co-ordinated" use of riding offices to stage door-to-door canvassing blitzes.

In a letter sent Wednesday to House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer, the board's chairman, Garneau says at least 43 New Democrat MPs have used their riding offices to organize "day of action" canvassing -- and more intend to do so again later this month.

Garneau says the days of action appear designed to "identify supporters" and are thus "inherently electoral in nature" -- a suspicion he says is underlined by the fact that NDP candidates have simultaneously conducted identical canvassing blitzes in ridings not currently held by the party.

He also points to a video message late last year from NDP national campaign director Anne McGrath, in which she explains that the days of action are designed to build the NDP's ground organization and use their "incumbent advantage" to win the coming election.

"While all parties have volunteers that knock on doors and identify potential supporters, that activity must be funded strictly by party resources and not parliamentary funds," Garneau says in the letter.

Deputy NDP caucus chair Ruth Ellen Brosseau counters that New Democrat MPs are simply doing their jobs.

"Our days of action are legitimate activities that enable MPs to discharge their parliamentary functions and communicate with their constituents -- which is allowed and expected under House rules," she said in a statement to The Canadian Press, accusing the Liberals of using the secretive board to once again conduct a partisan vendetta against the NDP. …

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