NDP taking its fight to the doors of the BOIE - again
The Board of Internal Economy holds another meeting to discuss NDP caucus spending
The NDP is once again taking its fight over satellite offices to the gates of the Board of Internal Economy (BOIE).
The secretive House of Commons committee met again Tuesday afternoon to discuss whether the NDP improperly used House of Commons funds to open satellite offices, in particular, the one in Montreal.
The meeting didn't last long, though, because board spokesperson and Conservative MP John Duncan said the NDP provided new information just one hour before.
"So we have deferred consideration of NDP satellite offices while board members and administration can review this new information," Duncan told reporters after the meeting.
The BOIE has previously found the NDP had indeed broken the rules with these offices. Tuesday's meeting was meant to discuss what to do about it.
However, the NDP is already taking the BOIE to court over another decision, calling the whole process a "kangaroo court."
“The NDP believes that the only way to have real accountability for the BOIE is to replace it by an independent body,” NDP House Leader Peter Julian said in a news release on Tuesday announcing his party would try to force the board to open its doors to the public.
"But until then," he continued, "the only way to make it more transparent is to lift the veil of secrecy and to ensure that all meetings are open to the public."
The NDP invited the media to attend the meeting and says it will attempt to pass a motion to "open the doors."
The bid, however, seems to have failed as media were not allowed to even go to the third-floor hallway in the Parliament buildings where the meeting room is located.
Ironically, tourists are allowed into that particular hallway ,and in fact file through it after visiting the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower.
In a separate email sent out to NDP caucus members Monday, Steven Moran, deputy chief of staff to Leader Tom Mulcair, said they expect the BOIE to hear from House of Commons administration that will confirm that NDP staff in the satellite office perform only parliamentary duties and not partisan activities.
Accuses opponents of ganging up
"Knowing our opponents," Moran nonetheless cautioned the caucus, "we can expect that they will interpret the findings of the administration of the House of Commons with their usual bad faith."
The Speaker of the House of Commons acts as the chair of the board, its membership is made up of MPs from the three major parties in the House of Commons - three from the government, three from the opposition.
However, the opposition seats are split between the NDP and Liberals, meaning that the NDP holds only two seats on the board, hence Moran’s warning to caucus.
"We need to be aware our Conservative and Liberal opponents have decided to take advantage of these meetings held behind closed doors," Moran continued. "They have transformed the BOIE into a kangaroo court to attack our integrity."
For months, the NDP has vigorously defending itself against attacks from Conservatives and Liberals, as well as negative findings by the BOIE, when it comes to how the NDP caucus uses its parliamentary budget.
Canada Post is already looking at its options after the BOIE declared the NDP misused more than $1-million worth of parliamentary mailing privileges.