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RCMP raid MP Manon Perreault’s office in expenses probe

Quebec NDP M.P. Manon Perreault is shown on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, September 21, 2011.


The RCMP are investigating the expenses of the NDP's former critic for disability issues, who is now sitting as an Independent after being charged with mischief in a separate police matter.

The Mounties have confirmed they raided on Wednesday the riding office of the MP for Montcalm, Manon Perreault, and served a production order to obtain expense records from the House of Commons.

The police operation adds to the controversy surrounding Ms. Perreault, who fired one aide and had another one quit because of burnout in 2012. The two aides have complained to the NDP about their respective situations, but are still struggling to obtain compensation.

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"We have been totally ignored. The delays are just awful," said Sylvie Daigle, who is seeking payment for unpaid overtime.

Ms. Perreault was excluded from the NDP caucus last June after she was charged with mischief over allegations that she wrongly accused another former aide, Danielle Bédard, of stealing office equipment.

Ms. Bédard has won a legal battle to be reinstated in the office, but she said she has yet to return to work or obtain compensation for the more than two years when she was out of work.

Ms. Perreault was first elected as part of the 2011 "Orange Wave" in her riding north of Montreal. The rookie MP uses a wheelchair, and has obtained a special dispensation from the House of Commons to hire a family member – her brother – to help her perform her duties.

Ms. Perreault and her staff in Ottawa and Mascouche, Que., did not return phone calls on Wednesday.

Former riding assistants raised questions about Ms. Perreault's use of her parliamentary budget, including her travel spending, with the RCMP earlier this year. In addition, the former president of the NDP's riding association in Montcalm, Yvon Groleau, complained to the House of Commons in 2012 about the work done by Ms. Perreault's brother.

"Even though this is a full-time job that pays about $50,000 a year, it seems that he is rarely with Manon and accomplishes no other tasks in the offices in the riding and Ottawa," Mr. Groleau said in a letter to Speaker Andrew Scheer.

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In an interview, Mr. Groleau said he did not pursue the matter further. He said he felt that after her election, Ms. Perreault was particularly interested in working with members of her immediate family.

"It did not get off to a good start," said Mr. Groleau, who retired from the riding association in 2011.

Ms. Daigle said she was sometimes the one who had the responsibility of travelling with Ms. Perreault to the House. Ms. Daigle said she complained to the NDP about her living conditions during her time in Ottawa, including being asked to sleep on a cot in Ms. Perreault's apartment.

Ms. Bédard and Ms. Daigle brought their complaints to the office of NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair in Montreal, but Ms. Daigle said "we were thrown out."

Mr. Mulcair's office did not comment specifically on the matter, stating that all disputes involving NDP staffers are governed by a collective bargaining agreement. Still, party officials acknowledged that they have been aware of problems in Ms. Perreault's office for years.

The RCMP confirmed that they conducted a raid at the MP's office but refused to provide details on its investigation.

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The RCMP have laid charges against three current and former senators over their expenses claims, but Ms. Perreault is the only MP who is known to face a police investigation for the use of his or her parliamentary resources.

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