Tom Mulcair denies Tory adviser talks ended over money

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair denies that reported discussions with the Conservative Party in 2007 to become a senior adviser on the environment to Prime Minister Stephen Harper ended over money.

Sources tell Maclean's money was an issue in 2007 talks, Mulcair says it was policy

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair denies ever wanting to run as a Conservative candidate after he had discussions with the party to possibly work for them as a consultant 0:47

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair again denies that reported discussions with the Conservative Party in 2007 to become a senior adviser on the environment to Prime Minister Stephen Harper ended over money. 

Mulcair was reacting to a Maclean's magazine article, which quotes several sources that said the discussions were the first step in securing Mulcair to run as a Conservative candidate in 2008, but that the negotiations allegedly broke down over money. It also said Mulcair was seeking nearly double what Harper's office offered.

Mulcair reiterated to reporters in Quebec City on Tuesday morning that after he resigned as environment minister in Jean Charest's Quebec Liberal government, a number of parties approached him. 

"I had absolutely no intention of running for the Conservatives," he said. "What I chose to do instead, was run for a party that represented my values."

It's not the first time Mulcair's so-called secret negotiations with the Tories have come to light. 

CBC News wrote in 2011 about the then co-deputy leader of the NDP having entertained offers from other parties, quoting an even older story in a Montreal newspaper from 2007. 

Other news outlets have also since written about the negotiations, some with differing details.

Mulcair, for his part, said conversations about an advisory role with the government began in 2006, but said talks broke down over the Conservatives' environmental policies.

The salary was not important, Mulcair said. What was clear was that the Conservative Party had no interest in protecting the environmental obligations laid out in the Kyoto Protocol. 

Denies talks with PM's ex-press secretary

Dimitri Soudas, Harper's press secretary at the time, told Maclean's he was authorized to offer up to $180,000 a year, but Mulcair wanted $300,000. Soudas says after he said he couldn't go higher than $180,000, he never heard from Mulcair again.

Mulcair, on the other hand, emphatically denied negotiating with Soudas and that the former press secretary did not even take part in the talks. He said he "absolutely never" met with Soudas as part of the negotiations. 

The $300,000 figure, he said to reporters in French, "was pulled from the air by someone who never participated in the discussions." 

Ran for party on 'values'

A source close to the negotiations told CBC News that it wasn't about money, and no amount would have made Mulcair a Conservative.

What's more, Mulcair said he had a much more substantial offer from a law firm, but ultimately decided to continue with his political career.

Ultimately, he joined the NDP in April 2007 and won a byelection in the Montreal riding of Outremont five months later. An MP's annual salary in 2007 was about $150,000. 

"The NDP with Jack Layton had never won a single seat in Quebec in a federal general election," Mulcair said.

In a statement, Mulcair's principal secretary, Karl Belanger, called it "a move that can hardly be described as opportunistic."

With files from The Canadian Press

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