Skip to main content
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

NDP leader Tom Mulcair speaks with the media following caucus Wednesday, May 14, 2014 in Ottawa.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Thomas Mulcair is set to make a rare appearance in front of a House committee to defend the NDP's decision to place party workers and parliamentary staff in "satellite offices" outside of Ottawa.

The Liberal and Conservative MPs on the procedure and house affairs committee, who used an order of the House to call the NDP Leader as a witness on Thursday, are planning to grill Mr. Mulcair on his party's controversial use of parliamentary funds.

Conservative MP Joe Preston said he wants the committee to do a "study on the spending of taxpayers' dollars, making sure it wasn't for partisan purposes." The Conservatives and Liberals are teaming up this week, hoping to eventually force the NDP to reimburse taxpayers for the salaries of the officials who were paid out of MPs' budgets.

Story continues below advertisement

After Mr. Mulcair's appearance, the committee is expected to call Audrey O'Brien, the clerk of the House, whose office has been involved in much discussion with the NDP on this matter since 2011.

In a long exchange with reporters on Wednesday, Mr. Mulcair battle-tested his lines as he defended his party's strategy to place parliamentary staff alongside party workers – inside offices paid for by the NDP – in Montreal and Toronto after the 2011 election. He acknowledged that the NDP broke new ground with its strategy, but said that the parliamentary staff did not engage in partisan duties.

"We have parliamentary staff that does parliamentary work. We have party staff that does party work – things like fundraising, things like memberships are only done by party workers," he said.

Mr. Mulcair was challenged by the media over a series of internal documents that suggest that the administration of the House of Commons was unaware that parliamentary officials worked in NDP offices outside of Ottawa. Mr. Mulcair fought back, stating that the NDP followed all of the rules that were in place at the time, and has adapted to new rules that now prevent these officials from working inside party offices.

"The only thing that was open to question was whether or not they were allowed to work in an office where the rent was being paid by the party. That was allowed before. It's no longer allowed. We respected the prior rules. We're respecting the current rules," Mr. Mulcair said.

Still, the Conservatives have also raised questions about the NDP's plans – which never materialized – to also place parliamentary staff in an NDP office in Saskatchewan. In an interview, Conservative MP Randy Hoback said the fact the NDP has no MPs in the province suggested that the staff would have been doing political duties.

"It appears they were going to office to co-ordinate political and partisan activities, rather than serving constituents that they don't have in Saskatchewan," Mr. Hoback said.

Story continues below advertisement

However, Mr. Mulcair said that he is allowed to "pay somebody a fee to represent me" in the province, in the same way that Conservative ministers have access to government offices and staff in all provinces.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies