MP Mike Sullivan’s recent ‘householder’ and ‘ten percenter’ took words directly from the provincial NDP’s platform. The ‘ten percenter’ has recently made national news because Judy Sgro, a Liberal MP, alleges that Sullivan used taxpayer money to fund the advertising campaign of his provincial NDP counterpart Paul Ferreira. Doing so would break House rules about spending.
‘Householders’ and ‘ten percenters’ are mailings sent at government expense. Regulations say that the money cannot be spent on “provincial, municipal or local election campaign material”.
Sgro took issue with a photo of Sullivan and Ferreira together and the Sullivan’s apparent support of the provincial NDP’s platform. Sullivan told the Globe that Ferreira is “a constituent who happened to be in a group photo. As for the platform references [in the mailing] – he said he was only talking about promises his own federal party had made in the past.”
A close look at the newsletter shows that this is not quite the case. Ferreira is not in a group shot; the picture is only of the two of them. Nor is Ferreira identified as a constituent; he is identified as “former MPP Paul Ferreira”.
Further, the words on both the ten-percenter and the community update are taken almost verbatim from the provincial NDP’s platform. The first paragraph of both, for instance, reads:
The Harmonized Sales Tax has hit struggling families at the worst possible time. Instead of making life more affordable for people struggling with the recession, it made life more expensive. It shifted more of the tax burden off large corporations like banks and insurance companies and onto household budgets–
-$6 billion worth in Ontario. That’s not fair.
Only the last line, struck through here, does not appear in the NDP platform document.
Much of the rest of the front page of the letter sent to residents is also taken verbatim from the provincial NDP’s platform statement.
Sgro has referred the issue to the Speaker of the House. I’m not an expert on this (or any other) kind of thing, but I believe that if the Speaker finds that the language is similar enough to count as advertising for the provincial NDP, he can penalize our MP by deducting money from Sullivan’s budget.
In correspondence with me, Ferreira said,
The NDP — both provincially and federally — has been consistent in our position on the HST: we would take it off daily essentials, like home heating and hydro. That was in the Federal NDP platform. Mike articulated this position in the newsletter. Mike is doing his job, informing his constituents of where he stands on an issue of immense importance.
Thanks to PW and N for the mailings.