The Bloc wants in on the inquisition

Since the Bloc is no longer a party, it can't sit in on the committee investigating its alleged improprieties

I’ve got a piece about what Duceppe’s wee tumble from grace means to the sovereignty movement in this week’s dead tree, but a bit about the nuts and bolts.

As we now know, courtesy of La Presse’s excellent Ottawa bureau, Gilles Duceppe paid Bloc director general Gilbert Gardner (to the tune of $100K a year by the end of his mandate) with funds designated for parliamentary, not partisan, ends. Yesterday, Le Devoir tried mightily to run interference, saying the wording was broad enough to allow for such a thing. For the record, here’s the wording of the parliamentary bylaw: “The funds, goods, services and premises provided pursuant to the by-laws are to be used only for the carrying out of Members’ parliamentary functions.”

Do “parliamentary functions” include a campaign to attract the cultural community vote to the Bloc Québécois, which Gardner spearheaded in 2004? Does it include coordinating research and activities with the Parti Québécois, which Gardner also did in 2004? I wouldn’t dream of judging, but put it this way: someone within the Bloc Québécois knew it would be sufficiently embarrassing to Duceppe to have this info out in the open. Presumably this person will also delight in seeing Duceppe sweat it out at a parliamentary committee investigation into his alleged misdeeds—one chaired entirely by his old political foes. He even referred to some of his foes—those MPs from Quebec who didn’t belong to the Bloc Québécois—as “Uncle Toms”.

The Bloc is seething at the prospect. the party’s parliamentary leader André Bellavance wants a Bloc member “with the same rights and privileges of other members” to be on that committee. Here’s what Bellavance had to say in a press release from Monday [translation mine]:

It is unthinkable that no representative of the Bloc Québécois can intervene what some MPs are already referring to as an “investigation” into our ex-leader and/or our party. In our absence, the committee, made up entirely of members from political parties adverse to the Bloc Québécois, cannot claim complete transparence, or propose recommendations without its credibility be questioned, as it will have the appearance of an entirely partisan process.

Trouble is, it can’t: the Bloc, which is no longer an official party, can no longer have members on any committee. Sure, exceptions can be made. I wonder, though, whether such a thing would happen in the case of a sovereignist who built his career denigrating his colleagues’ treatment of Quebec. I’d say it’s a hell of a lot more likely that schadenfreude will be a dish best served on a certain committee.

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