Tories want committee to investigate recovery of NDP mailing costs
New Democrat MPs on the hook for more than $1 million in 'inappropriate expenditures'
Conservatives on the committee charged with looking into the NDP's alleged misuse of House resources have filed a formal request for a special pre-recess meeting with the Commons law clerk to determine how the House can get the money back.
The move comes after last week's ruling by the secretive all-party Board of Internal Economy that put New Democrat MPs on the hook for more than $1 million in costs related to mailings. The mailings were retroactively deemed too partisan to be covered by the MPs' taxpayer-funded office budgets,
All five Conservative committee members signed off on a letter sent to procedure and House affairs committee chair Joe Preston last week.
In it, they point out the board has already served notice it wants to hear from the committee once its current study has wrapped up.
Letter cites ruling on 'inappropriate expenditures'
"In light of yesterday's finding by the Board of Internal Economy with regards to the large-volume mailings," they write, "we believe it is important to ask the law clerk to brief the [procedure and House affairs] committee on this important decision, its consequences, and what options are available to the board and the House — and, more importantly, taxpayers — in order to recover the inappropriate expenditures by certain members of the Official Opposition."
Last Wednesday, Conservative Whip and Board spokesman John Duncan announced that New Democrat MPs would have to repay $1.17 million in parliamentary resources spent on mailings subsequently ruled ineligible, with approximately $36,000 owed directly to the House.
The remaining $1.13 million is the cost of the franking for those mailouts. Franking privileges allow MPs to send out material without paying postage.
Transport Minister Lisa Raitt has made it clear that she expects Canada Post to ensure the party refunds that money as well.
Committee to meet Tuesday
The committee is currently scheduled to meet to discuss the request on Tuesday morning, although it's not clear if the get-together will go ahead as planned if MPs vote to rise for the summer tonight.
If it does take place, however, it's expected to be held in public — and against the objections of the party whose spending will be in the spotlight.
"This is another example of the Conservatives using their majority to hijack our democratic institutions and transform Parliament into a kangaroo court," party spokeswoman Greta Levy told CBC News.
Both the board and the committee are also examining salary costs related to now-shuttered NDP outreach offices in Quebec and Toronto.
Those investigations could continue over the summer.
The full text of the Conservative request: