NDP MPs on hook for $2.75M paid to satellite party offices

Multi-party Board of Internal Economy, which polices House of Commons spending, has sent bills to 68 MPs

Chris Wattie/Reuters

Chris Wattie/Reuters

OTTAWA — Dozens of New Democrat MPs, including Leader Tom Mulcair, have been ordered to reimburse taxpayers $2.75 million in salaries paid to aides who worked in satellite party offices.

The secretive, multi-party Board of Internal Economy, which polices House of Commons spending, has sent bills to 68 MPs, including several who no longer sit as New Democrats, ordering them to personally repay the money.

The board ruled last August that the MPs had inappropriately used their House of Commons budgets to pay for 28 employees in satellite party offices in Quebec City, Montreal and Toronto.

On average, sources say the MPs are being asked to pay back about $30,000.

But for some MPs the tab is more than $100,000; sources say the leader’s office is being asked to reimburse about $400,000.

The NDP is challenging the board’s ruling on the satellite offices in Federal Court, as well as an earlier ruling that found New Democrat MPs had wrongly used $1.17 million worth of free parliamentary mailing privileges to paper 26 ridings with almost 2 million partisan missives.

In the case of the mailings, the board ordered the MPs to repay $36,000 to the Commons and urged Canada Post to recover the rest.

It emerged Tuesday that lawyers for the board and the NDP have been discussing the possibility of an out-of-court settlement of both matters and jointly asked the court last November to suspend proceedings pending further negotiations.

Those negotiations are still in progress.

The NDP maintains its MPs have done nothing wrong and that both decisions are the result of a partisan gang-up by Conservatives and Liberals on the board.

“NDP parliamentary staff have always performed parliamentary duties,” NDP House leader Peter Julian said in a statement late Tuesday, referring to the board as a “kangaroo court.”

“No evidence to the contrary has ever been provided by our Liberal and Conservative opponents who are acting as judge, jury and executioner against all principles of natural justice.”

News that the board has sent bills to more than five dozen MPs was first revealed late Tuesday in a bizarrely worded statement from NDP whip Nycole Turmel, who is the authorized spokesperson for the board. She is also one of the MPs who’s been ordered to repay money for the satellite office scheme.

Her statement noted that none of the MPs or satellite office employees has been heard by the board. Moreover, she said “multiple errors have been identified in the (dollar) amounts cited.”

“The goal of today’s decision is to create leverage against the MPs cited” by the board, she asserted.

A later statement from Andrew Scheer, Speaker of the Commons and chair of the board, identified the number of MPs involved in the satellite office scheme and the total amount owed. It made no such references to errors, lack of due process or the board’s motivation.

“Since members (of Parliament) are responsible for the use of House resources, they bear sole responsibility for any inappropriate use,” Scheer said.

Should New Democrat MPs lose the court challenge and still refuse to pay, the board can order a garnishee of their salaries.

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NDP MPs on hook for $2.75M paid to satellite party offices

  1. The whole thing stinks to high heaven. The biggest problem is that the whole process was so completely tainted by the obviously partisan behaviour of the CPC, Libs and the BIE that one can’t trust the findings. The NDP may have broken the rules but anyone with any common sense will still be reserving judgment.

    • The CPC and the Libs were what you say? Partisan?

      How shocking. I never dreamed in my lifetime I would live to see a political party stoop so low as to be acting in a partisan manner. It’s an outrage I tell you, an OUTRAGE!

      • When it is an allegation of wrongdoing, those looking into it should be neutral and should be looking for justice. From all I’ve read, the BIE was a lynch mob. Behaviour in QP is one thing; behaviour in Committee ought to be another. For me, at least, they have done as much damage to their own reputations as they have to the NDP’s.

        Certainly, it is hypocrisy in the extreme for the CPC to go after the NDP over the mailers, when they regularly use them for partisan purposes. My MP, Bal Gosal, shamelessly sends out these mailers every few weeks; they are clearly written by CPC hacks and shamelessly promote the party. I have written Mr Gosal about it several times, but he has not deigned to reply.

        If they are going to make the NDP pay for their mailers, then they need to pay for their own.

        As to the office expenses… there are definitely questions there that needed addressing, but I do not trust the BIE to have acted impartially. The NDP should forget negotiation and proceed with the court case – for the good of the country, as we need to know not just what the NDP did, but how fair the BIE was in carrying out its duties. It seems, these days, the Committee process is nothing more than an extension of QP.

        • You see, the difference between all parties using mailers, and the ones the NDP have to repay, is that the other parties don’t use their parliamentary mailing privileges during an election, as the NDP had done. You see, there’s the subtle difference between breaking the rules, and not breaking the rules.

          It’s the exact same thing with the staffing. The NDP were claiming the staff was for “parliamentary” purposes, but were all positions held in other towns… which doesn’t really make sense when parliament is in Ottawa.

          The only “partisanship” that I see here is coming from the NDP, attempting to use the lame excuse of being “bullied” to defend the fact that they broke the rules and inappropriately took over $2,000,000 from taxpayers.

          Do you remember how angry you were that Nigel Wright REPAID $90,000 to taxpayers? I wish you’d have half of that kind of anger for those who STEAL from taxpayers.

          • So it’s OK to use the mailers for purely partisan purposes outside of an election? You’re good with that? Or using taxpayer dollars for “information” ads that are party puff pieces? Or spending $50 million of border security funds on gazebos? Seems a lot like a pot-and-kettle situation, except the pot has a helluva lot more sooty buildup.

            As for the staff thing… they may well have been in the wrong. But the way the BIE went about things, I don’t trust the process or their conclusions. The CPC needed something to take the heat off, and suddenly this popped up.

            Like I say – still reserving judgment on the NDP’s actions, because the judge and jury have a vested interest in a particular outcome. It may be that they actually did break the rules – but the process here is a sham.

            As for your hero Nigel, Harper’s fall guy – the issue is that (a) Duffy appears to have broken the law and (b) Wright tried to help him cover up this fact. The dollar amount doesn’t matter. And it’s but one example of many re sleaze and corruption. The list of those already convicted (in an actual court), awaiting trial, or under investigation is quite long, going back to the attempted Cadman bribe. I expect the real reason Baird is bailing is because he can no longer stand the stench.

          • Do you remember how angry you were that Nigel Wright REPAID $90,000 to taxpayers? I wish you’d have half of that kind of anger for those who STEAL from taxpayers.

            LOL I sense a bit of, what’s the word again, oh yeah, PARTISANSHIP, from our friend Keith.

          • I notice you completely ignored my response re Nigel Wright. The amount isn’t the issue. The issue is the corruption. Duffy broke the law and Wright did his best to help cover up that fact. And while they took great pains to make sure nothing could trace back to the PM, only a fool thinks Harper wasn’t at least in the loop.

            From the attempted bribe of Cadman to multiple convictions, pending trials and active investigations, it’s pretty clear Wright/Duffy is just one sign of the serious ethical rot your beloved party suffers from. There’s not a lot of “conservative” in this party (and I have voted conservative back when there as a party worthy of the name); the first C really stands for Criminal.

        • When it is an allegation of wrongdoing, those looking into it should be neutral and should be looking for justice. From all I’ve read, the BIE was a lynch mob.

          You are quite correct. It’s just that political parties will act like political parties. Many times the CPC has been the victim of NDP and Liberal partisanship, and now they are dishing it out.

          Have you always been so concerned with partisanship or is it only when the NDP is the victim?

          • Name one instance of when the CPC has been a “victim.” The problems they create are of their own making.

            I’m actually in favour of making the NDP pay back the money if they broke the rules. I just think the BIE started with their verdict and then sought a way to justify it. That is no way for a quasi-judicial body to behave. And it shows the craven partisanship of the CPC yet again – Party above all else.

            We need an impartial ruling – something the Federal Court could provide, if it has jurisdiction.

            Am I partisan? Well, I don’t belong to any party – but I make no secret of my distrust and dislike of Harper and his minions. They are a blight on the nation. Given the number of times they have been convicted, and the number of pending charges and investigations in real courts, it’s not much of a stretch to consider them a criminal organization.

            That doesn’t mean I support wrongdoing by the other parties – far from it. It just means that if a CPC-dominated body is making a decision, I have a hard time trusting the decision has any degree of honesty.

  2. As much as I think the NPD are a party of self-righteous economically illiterate socialists……..I have the same concerns expressed by KeithBram. How can we trust the findings, when we have two parties ganging up on a third party who are all competitors?

    Of course, the Libs and NDP have done this to the conservatives, and the Conservatives were ordered to repay monies? I wonder if this is payback?

    I think the next step would be for the Conservatives and NPD to gang up on the Libs and demand they repays the tens of millions that “went missing” during the sponsorship scandal.

    the courts will have to decide; though to be frank, the very fact that the NDP is in talks to find a settlement is pretty clear evidence they know they did something wrong….but not so wrong that they would each have to pay out $30K on average.

    This committee of internal finance is not a kangaroo court, but I would guess that it is indeed highly partisan.

  3. Will the media be following this THEFT of over $2.75M as closely and breathlessly as they did the “scandal” of Nigel Wright REPAYING taxpayers $90,000?

    • When Gazebo Tony coughs up the $50 million he diverted to his riding, then you might have room to talk about theft.

      • Keith,

        As much as I hate seeing any funds spent unwisely, the difference is that the NDP did something illegal. The Gazebo……may have been “greasing” the wheels in the riding, but the same can be said for every Liberal who managed to get new roads in his riding. We know why they do it…..but legally, they are ALLOWED to do it.

        As I wrote initially….I have concerns when two parties are able to fine the other party in Parliament. It is rife with the possibility for abuse. The fact the NDP wanted a settlement, is evidence that they knew they were doing something illegal.

        • Not at all convinced Tony’s actions were legal. I think the CPC quashed any investigation into his wrongdoing.

          And if they were legal, then we need to scrap our current system of government and start over. Because this one is hopelessly broken and we can’t expect the crooks to fix it themselves.

          • Keith,

            it was the auditor general who informed us that the conservatives didn’t break any rules when they spent the money in tony’s riding.

            We know it was wasteful…..but it wasn’t illegal.

            That’s more than can be said for the provincial libs in Ontario. Pretty clear evidence that the Libs in Ontario are not only wasting money…..but are also involved in criminal activity on a regular basis.

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