Tom Mulcair to face MPs' questions on satellite offices, mass mailouts

A Conservative motion tabled at committee on Tuesday would set May 13 as the date for NDP Leader Tom Mulcair to explain just why his party thinks it should be permitted to use its Commons budget to foot the bill for out-of-town "satellite" outposts. Kady O'Malley has more.

NDP 'will work with committee to find a suitable date'

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has been ordered to appear before a House committee to field questions on his party's allegedly "improper" use of parliamentary resources. The party says Mulcair is "looking forward" to the chance to discuss the matter. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair may soon get the chance to explain just why his party thinks it should be permitted to use its Commons budget to foot the bill for out-of-town outposts in Quebec and Saskatchewan.

In March, the government took advantage of a rarely-used procedural tactic to pass a motion ordering Mulcair to appear before the procedure and House affairs committee to face questions over the allegedly improper use of parliamentary resources for "partisan purposes."

On Tuesday, lead Conservative committee member Tom Lukiwski served notice of a motion that would set May 13 as the date for Mulcair's appearance.

If passed, the motion would also authorize the chair to ask House administration to turn over documents related to those so-called "satellite" offices, including employment records for Montreal, copies of relevant correspondence with caucus officials on any and all such outposts "existing or planned" and a full explanation of the current rules regarding staff who work outside the precinct.

NDP says Mulcair 'looking forward' to appearance

It would also request correspondence between the House and Elections Canada, as well as with NDP House officers or research staff, related to "mass mailouts."

Last month, the all-party Board of Internal Economy issued a bulletin forbidding parties from using House money to pay the salaries of any employee who works out of a space "owned, leased or under the effective control of a political party," a move that prompted New Democrats to accuse their political rivals of joining forces to change the rules retroactively.

NDP spokeswoman Valerie Dufour told CBC News the party will provide a copy of the lease for the Montreal satellite office, which is also listed in Lukiwski's motion.

She also pointed out that, while the committee can't force Mulcair to appear, her boss has said that he's "looking forward" to the experience.

"We'll work with the committee to find a suitable date for his appearance."

But at the Tuesday morning meeting, NDP MP David Christopherson warned his colleagues that he intends to ask the committee chair to rule the motion out of order when it comes up for debate, which likely won't happen until next week. 

The complete text of the motion:

That the Committee request briefing materials, to be provided prior to this meeting, from the House of Commons Administration, including the Law Clerk, setting out an explanation of the jurisdiction of the Board of Internal Economy to investigate the use of House resources, whether in the matter of mass mailouts or satellite offices, including potential recourse available in cases of misuse or non-compliance.


Kady O'Malley covered Parliament Hill for CBC News until June, 2015.


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