Monday, May 12, 2014


It's been a talking point of the NDP and their partisans since forever: contempt of Parliament.

It dates back to 2011 when the Liberals and the NDP trumped up a contempt complaint against the then- and still-sitting Stephen Harper-led government, then rammed it through the commons because they could.

The government misled the commons, they argued: it wasn't actually true. Even a Constitutional expert as vaunted -- and hardly a staunch ally of the Conservative Party -- as Ned Franks declared that the case was razor-thin. But that didn't matter because between them, the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois had the numbers. The facts didn't matter then.

And I'm sure the NDP is hoping they don't now. The story recently broke that the NDP has been operating what they insisted were constituency offices in constituencies they don't represent, in the case of Saskatchewan, in a province where they don't have a single MP.

They misled the House of Commons. They told HoC staff that the staff the NDP had hired to work in the so-called "satellite offices" would be working in Ottawa. They didn't simply submit information to the House that the opposition refused to accept. They lied. Which makes this case for contempt of Parliament a whole different beast.

According to documents obtained and reported on by iPolitics, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair's then-Deputy Chief of Staff met with two House of Commons staffers -- one from Finance Services and one from Human Resources -- on October 3, 211. Ms Turk-Browne told the staffers that the hirees would be working in Ottawa.

It was a lie. There's no way, whatsoever, that it wasn't a lie.

And to cover up what? That I can't understand.

As outraged as a lot of people were about the so-called "satellite offices." Personally, I wasn't. While it's true the NDP located these satellite offices in ridings where the elected MP was not NDP, Canada's system of representation is actually quite complex. Canadians are represented locally by their MPs within their own ridings, and across provinces and regions within government, and within cabinet.

A lot of people in Saskatchewan, for example, didn't vote for the Conservative Party or the NDP. And while it's perfectly reasonable for Conservative MPs (and one lonely Liberal, Ralph Goodale) to become MP in each riding where they won a plurality of the vote, it's also perfectly reasonable for those voters who didn't to also have access to a voice in Parliament. In their case, it's the opposition.

There's plenty of room for argument regarding the democratic legitimacy of this. In my opinion, it's legitimate. I don't understand why the NDP opted to lie about this rather than argue for its legitimacy.

But it seems to me that now there's only one thing to do: Thomas Mulcair was and remains responsible for the actions of his Deputy Chief of Staff. He's the leader of the NDP, and the leader of the opposition.

The House of Commons should immediately vote to hold the NDP caucus in contempt of Parliament. The entire NDP caucus must then resign their seats in the House of Commons and run in by-elections. At the very least Thomas Mulcair must be held responsible for the deceit that took place within his staff and under his watch.

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