I think it's fair to say that in federal politics, a party hasn't really grown up until they've had a multi-million dollar scandal.
The federal NDP has spent 50 years trying to get themselves into a position where they can actually have a multi-million dollar scandal. For the first time in their history, they are. So in terms of multi-million dollar scandals, they're batting a thousand.
Plenty of people have had serious concerns about the NDP's "satellite offices" they've been operating in ridings in which they do not have an MP. In my opinion the legitimacy of these offices focuses strictly around whether these offices, and the staff employed by them, are performing work on parliamentary business for opposition MPs or partisan work for the NDP. In my personal opinion, so long as they're doing the former, the offices should be fine. I've said this before.
But the problem is that the NDP lied. In October 2011, Jess Turke-Browne, Deputy Chief of Staff for then-interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel (not for Thomas Mulcair as I mistakenly reported earlier) lied to House of Commons staff when she insisted that the staff for these satellite offices would be working in Ottawa.
In response to this revelation, current NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has adopted an interesting approach: he's using the Pamela Wallin/Mike Duffy/Patrick Brazeau defense.
You've heard it before: they followed all the rules. The expenses were approved. They were where they were supposed to be when they were supposed to be there.
The consensus has become that this defense was laughable. I've never been so certain about that myself, as I don't consider the allegations against the Senators to have ever been adequately investigated. But what is certain is that Thomas Mulcair had a heyday with the affair. He was like a pitbull in question period. He'd found himself a fresh bone to chew and he gnawed it for all it was worth.
But now with his party under fire, let's look at how Mulcair is defending himself:
They followed all the rules. The spending was approved. They were where they were supposed to be when they were supposed to be there.
Sound like anyone you've heard of? Sure it does.
Except, they weren't. The employment forms the NDP submitted to House of Commons staff insisted that the staffers would be working in Ottawa. They weren't. Apparently, seven NDP MPs signed those forms. They aided and abetted Turke-Browne in her apparent deception of HoC staff.
And hear Mulcair: parroting Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau. Well done.
Whoever those seven MPs are -- they know who they are, and soon the rest of us will too (one of them is Guy Carron) -- owe the House their resignations. Nycole Turmel owes the House her resignation. And the buck stops with the leader: Thomas Mulcair owes the House his resignation.
With this scandal the NDP has finally grown up. Now they have to own up.