Mulcair says NDP followed rules when it hired staff for satellite office
Published Tuesday, May 13, 2014 5:13PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 13, 2014 10:07PM EDT
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair insisted Tuesday that his party didn’t break any rules when it hired staff to work in his party’s satellite offices.
Documents released Monday show that House of Commons administration had no idea that NDP staffers approved to do constituency work in Ottawa were actually working in a Montreal party office.
The Conservative and Liberal parties have accused the NDP of misusing parliamentary resources and misleading administrators.
But Mulcair said Tuesday that his party has “respected the rules every single step of the way.”
"We've been completely transparent with the House authorities ... The NDP couldn't have been more open about this," he said.
Questions about nine NDP staffers, whose salaries are paid by taxpayers, were raised as early as 2011, when employment forms indicated they lived near Montreal.
When asked where the employees would be working, the deputy chief of staff for the NDP leader at the time said “in Ottawa.”
Seven NDP MPs even signed forms saying the staffers would work in Ottawa.
But the clerk of the House of Commons, Audrey O’Brien, said there was no indication the staffers “would be located in Montreal or that their work world be carried out in co-location with a political party's office.”
But Mulcair, who will appear before a House committee Thursday to answer questions about the matter, said administrators knew that the NDP staffers were working in Montreal.
He said the NDP employees had Montreal phone numbers and addresses. He also said they did not engage in partisan activity.
House of Commons rules state that a member can use tax dollars to “hire employees for the member’s parliamentary office or constituency office” -- not a party office.
“It has been a longstanding rule in this place that there is a division between parliamentary work and partisan work,” Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Tuesday. “And that has been very, very clear for an awfully long time.”
Mulcair said the Conservatives and Liberals on the board of internal economy changed the rules to forbid the NDP’s satellite office arrangement. But the Conservatives say they only issued a clarification, not a rule change.
With a report from CTV’s Deputy Ottawa Bureau Chief Laurie Graham and files from The Canadian Press