Conservatives and Liberals are attacking the NDP MPs, including Mike Sullivan, for misusing their community offices as staging grounds for political events such as door-to-door blitzes. This would violate the rules about spending government money.
Sullivan comes under particular scrutiny in a CBC story, which says,
But at least one NDP MP has used his constituency office as a gathering place for a more overtly partisan event.
Mike Sullivan used his Toronto office earlier this month to gather supporters for a bus ride to a downtown rally with NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.
The rules governing the use of government resources—including MPs offices—are uncommonly clear: MPs are not allowed to use offices for
the administration, organization and internal communications of a political party [or] activities designed, in the context of a federal, provincial, or municipal election, or any other local election, to support or oppose a political party or an individual candidate
And that is the nub of the issue. Was Mulcair’s rally an election rally?
I think so. Sullivan himself tagged his tweets #NDP, and wrote in a Facebook post
This past Sunday, Thomas Mulcair spoke to our wonderful city of Toronto. His message was one of hope not fear and optimism not despair…. It’s time to build a more progressive and generous Canada. In the next election say no to the same old kind of politics, turn away from the talking points of cynicism and negativity, and vote for the change you want – and actually get it.
However, in response to the CBC story, Sullivan said:
My constituency office was not used for partisan purposes – it happened to be a convenient location for folks to meet before getting on a bus, near parking and 11 bus routes. As far as I know, the freedom to assemble is still in the Charter of Rights & Freedoms.
It is true; we still have the right to assemble. Next time, though, Sullivan supporters might consider exercising those rights in the Tim Horton’s just down the street.