NDP MPs on the hook for $2.75M spent on satellite offices
Published Tuesday, February 3, 2015 8:39PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 3, 2015 11:18PM EST
Several dozen NDP MPs will be asked to repay a total of $2.75 million inappropriately spent to employ staffers in the party’s satellite offices.
In a statement issued Tuesday night, House Speaker Andrew Scheer said the multi-party Board of Internal Economy has decided that each NDP MP who participated in the satellite office arrangement “will be directed to reimburse, as a personal expense, all salary costs incurred from May 2, 2011 to December 31, 2014.”
The decision affects 68 New Democrats, including one former MP. The amount owed works out to an average of $40,000 per MP, but some will be on the hook for a lot more money than others.
CTV News has learned that the NDP leadership team, including party leader Thomas Mulcair and party whip Nycole Turmel, owes more than $600,000.
The majority of the MPs who will be billed are from Quebec. Isabelle Morin, who represents the Montreal riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Lachine, is on the hook for nearly $170,000. Alexandre Boulerice, a high-profile Montreal MP, will be asked to pay back $120,000.
Former Toronto MP Olivia Chow, on the other hand, will be billed just over $1,000.
Scheer, who is also the chair of the Board of Internal Economy, said that since MPs are responsible for the use of House of Commons resources, “they bear sole responsibility for any inappropriate use.”
The BOIE, which governs the financial and administrative policies of the House, concluded last August that the NDP inappropriately spent taxpayer dollars when it used its parliamentary budget to pay staffers for partisan work in the party’s Montreal and Quebec City satellite offices.
The NDP issued a statement Tuesday night saying it will fight the board’s decision in federal court.
Mulcair has previously insisted that the party did nothing wrong and that Commons officials had approved the use of satellite offices. But Scheer told a committee last May that no one from the NDP approached him about the offices.
Nycole Turmel, who sits on the BOIE and acts as its spokesperson, said in a statement Tuesday that none of the affected MPs has been heard by the board.
“Nor have any of the employees responsible for this parliamentary work been heard,” she said in the statement announcing the decision to seek repayments from individual MPs.
“It is also important to note that multiple errors have been identified in the amounts cited,” she added, without elaborating.
“The Board of Internal Economy acknowledges that the NDP MPs will pursue their federal court case,” Turmel said. “The consensus of the Board of Internal Economy, however, is that the lawyers of both parties continue their negotiations in order to arrive at an out-of-court settlement.”
The board had previously ruled that the NDP broke rules governing free mailing privileges and ordered the party and MPs to repay $1.17 million. The NDP is appealing that ruling in court.