Politics is a bit of a balancing act between public service and loyalty to your party. The taxpayer subsidizes the public service part and the party is supposed to take care of things like canvassing, advertising and fundraising. On the one hand, MPs receive government money in order to hire assistants and run their offices. This money also includes provisions for communicating with constituents on the work that they are doing. On the other, MPs are supposed to draw a firm line between partisan spending on things like canvassing and advertising (which should be paid for by the party) and helping constituents who come to them with a problem.
Some aspects of political spending are easy to categorize. For example, election signage and campaign leaflets should always be paid for by the party. The line gets thin when a party uses tax money to promote itself. For example, MP’s newsletters not only report to constituents but often paint the member in an unduly flattering light. The recent string of federal government TV commercials seem to be telling Canadians that the Federal Government is working hard for you and, by the way, it’s led by a wonderful, God fearing, military-worshipping Prime Minister and his talented Cabinet. In fine Canadian tradition, the Liberals did exactly the same when they were in office – not to mention AdScam.
In this grey and murky world, the NDP has been found guilty of spending tax money on partisan activities by the seven-member Board of Internal Economy, a parliamentary committee (controlled by the Conservatives) that has deemed the pooling of MPs money allocations (sent to create satellite offices in Quebec City and Montreal) to be partisan spending. The committee has presented the NDP with a $2.7 million bill that needs to be paid. While the Party is appealing the order to the courts, the NDP Caucus must cough up the money a.s.a.p. Naturally, Quebec MPs will be paying the lion’s share while most outside Quebec, like our own Mike Sullivan are being billed $1288.
Sullivan claimed to WestonWeb that the BOIE is an, ‘Ever-secret kangaroo court’ and that the truth, ‘Will be brought out into the open when we are in government. We followed all the rules. No partisan work was done.’ Whether or not the NDP is guilty, it is a moral and financial blow in an election year, and an expensive one for some Quebec MPs
In the meantime, those thinly disguised Government of Canada / Conservative Party commercials continue to
help us understand what the government is doing for us annoy – and all paid for by the taxpayer. But that’s ok because the government is in charge and they would never lie to us would they?