Duceppe fights accusations of wrongdoing

Former Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe will have his lawyer represent him in Parliament on Monday to fight accusations that he mishandled public funds.

Will present legal opinion to parliamentary body on Monday

Former Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe will fight accusations he mishandled public funds.

Former Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe has sought help from his lawyer to fight accusations that he mishandled public funds.

Duceppe says he will present a legal opinion on Monday to the parliamentary body that's investigating allegations he used House of Commons funds for partisan purposes.

In a statement released Sunday, Duceppe said the legal opinion, prepared by his lawyer, will show he always made sure to respect parliamentary rules.

The former Bloc chief has been under scrutiny since a report surfaced last Saturday that he paid his party's general manager for seven years with funds designated to run his Ottawa office.

Other parties in Ottawa have said the Bloc Quebecois broke parliamentary rules when it paid Gilbert Gardner public funds to work at the Bloc's headquarters in Montreal.

Duceppe disputed the allegations again Sunday, calling them "false" and "partisan."

The legal opinion will be submitted to the Board of Internal Economy, an all-party body that oversees MP expenses and is looking into the matter.

Duceppe said the Bloc Quebecois offered to participate but was denied entry.

"Unfortunately, the decision means our adversaries will deliberate in a closed-door session without hearing our point of view," he said in the statement.

Duceppe will stay out of politics for now

Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair was asked for comment on the matter after the NDP leadership debate in Halifax on Sunday.

Mulcair said although he and Duceppe are political adversaries, the former Bloc leader has shown "exemplary rectitude."

"I have yet to see anything, in what I have read on the matter, to lead me to believe that the rules were not followed," the NDP MP said.

"The rules do allow for a certain amount of partisan work," said Mulcair.

After the accusations surfaced last week, Duceppe said he would stay out of active politics at least until he had chance to clear his name.

That momentarily put to rest speculation that he would take over the leadership of the Parti Québécois from Pauline Marois.

Duceppe stepped down as Bloc leader last May, after his party was annihilated in the last federal election, dropping to just four seats. 

With files from Susana Mas