The head of one of Canada's largest public service unions says it's improper for people who hold jobs like his to exhibit political partisanship -- a reference to the fact that the interim head of the federal NDP was a New Democrat at the same time she was head of another major public-sector union.
Gary Corbett, the president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada which represents professionals within the public service, was asked Monday about the propriety of Nycole Turmel holding a party membership at the same time she was president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).
"The professional institute is non-partisan and, when you become partisan - I am not going to speak about Ms. Turmel per se - but when you display partisanship it impacts on your credibility," Mr. Corbett said in reply to a reporter at a news conference. "It is an issue for Ms. Turmel," he said.
Ms. Turmel, who has been named interim leadership of the federal New Democrats while Jack Layton deals with a new type of cancer, been criticized for taking out a membership in the Bloc Quebecois after retiring from the PSAC in 2006. Members of the other parties say her affiliation with the separatists calls her commitment to federalism into question.
Ms. Turmel has said repeatedly that she is a federalist. She gave up her membership in the Bloc in January of this year before filing papers to run as the NDP candidate in Hull-Aylmer in Quebec.
Ms. Turmel has been a member of the NDP since 1991. In 2003, she moderated the process that saw Mr. Layton elected party leader. Throughout her time as union president she urged her members to vote for candidates of different stripes -- Liberal, Bloc and NDP -- who had been endorsed by her labour organization.