Forget Duffy, Look At Thomas Mulcair
From what we've learned so far, Thomas Mulcair was a member of Quebec's Liberal Party before he pondered becoming a Conservative. During his time in the Quebec legislature, he poured praise on Britain's conservative wonder woman, Margaret Thatcher. But it's not his weird ideological back flips that voters should be worried about, it's his actions as a political figure tasked with holding Stephen Harper accountable. As media force-feeds Canadians details about a fraudulent senator and a $90,000 cheque meant to reimburse taxpayers, Mulcair's dubious past disappears into the shadows. When the spotlight catches Mulcair's past, it makes everything involving Mike Duffy look frivolous.
Stephen Harper appointed Mike Duffy to the senate, just as past Liberals appointed other senators who have been accused of wrong-doing and put under investigation by the RCMP, like Mac Harb and Colin Kenny. Out of nine senators accused of similar crimes, five were appointed by a Liberal Prime Minister. Sharon Carstairs, Marie-Charette-Poulin, Rose-Marie Losier-Cool and Bill Rompkey are all under RCMP investigation and they were all appointed by Jean Chretien. Since the NDP has never won a majority, they have been fortunate enough to escape the scandal. However, Mulcair's past reveals a history of dubious business deals and bad judgment. In fact, comparing the Duffy Affair to Mulcair's past is like comparing jaywalking to drunk driving.
Harper Didn't Know – Mulcair Didn't Know
The testimony of several witnesses in the Mike Duffy trial indicates that Harper didn't know about the $90,000 cheque offered to Duffy by Nigel Wright to repay expenses. The fact that it was done against Harper's command – and under his nose – has been repeatedly corroborated under oath.
In 1994, Thomas Mulcair was offered an envelope by Gilles Vaillancourt, who was the mayor of Laval, Quebec at the time. Widespread corruption across Quebec eventually unravelled and the RCMP came to ask Mulcair questions about it in 2011. By then, 17 years had passed and any truths and memories had faded. When it was revealed that Mulcair was involved in the investigation, Mulcair admitted that Vaillancourt had offered him an envelope. At the time, bribery and corrupt business dealings were commonplace across Quebec's public sector, but Mulcair told reporters that he “never saw cash” because he refused the envelope and never opened it.
The common question that arises is whether Mulcair actually did accept a bribe, but another less common question asks why Mulcair never went to police, especially after revealing that he had spoken to another Liberal, Vincent Auclair, who was also offered an envelope. It was a question asked by Conservative House Leader, Peter Van Loan. “He's got some important questions to answer to Canadians about what he knew about this corruption and why he covered it up,” Van Loan said.
Bloc Quebecois MP, Serge Menard, said that Vaillancourt offered him $10,000 cash in 1993. Both Mulcair and Menard said they refused the cash (or envelope) and chose to stay silent.
The Duffy Affair and Mulcair's envelope are different by leaps and bounds. The $90,000 cheque was meant to repay taxpayers, while the cash in the envelope was meant to buy influence. So far, the responses from both Harper and Mulcair are the same. Neither knew about the money and both claim to have been against the nature of the transactions.
Mulcair Says Harper Doesn't Respect Taxpayers – Mulcair Doesn't Respect Taxpayers
It was widely reported last year that the NDP had broken parliamentary rules by financing staff at satellite offices in Saskatchewan, Quebec and Toronto for political and partisan gain. Several NDP MPs, including Mulcair, were found to have broken parliamentary rules by funding staff at these offices with public money. When ordered to pay back the money, Mulcair called it a partisan attack by Conservatives and Liberals. The expenses that were ordered to be returned to taxpayers total nearly $3 million.
Mulcair offered to repay only 10% of the amount ordered, but his offer was rejected by a parliamentary board. The repayment was to have begun on July 1st, but Mulcair and his MPs have tried to appeal the ruling and absolve themselves of any wrong-doing. Although the NDP and 68 of the party's MPs were found to have violated parliamentary spending rules, the funds that were inappropriately diverted have yet to be paid back.
In another incident dating back to last year, the NDP broke more parliamentary rules by taking advantage of free mailing services in order to blanket 26 ridings with over one million partisan political leaflets. Members of Parliament are allowed to send a limited amount of free, unaddressed mail to voters per year, but it was found that the NDP had broken the specific rules. In June of last year, the NDP was ordered to repay $1.13 million following the inappropriate mail-outs.
Of course, the findings of a multi-party parliamentary committee were brushed off by Mulcair and the NDP as a Tory-Liberal conspiracy. Rather than accept wrong-doing and take accountability for their actions, NDP MPs have pretended to be victims of a “kangaroo court”.
Conservatives Broke Election Rules – New Democrats Broke More Election Rules
Thomas Mulcair and the NDP are quick to remind Canadians about the robocall scandal and Conservatives who have skirted or disregarded election rules, but they're just as eager to help Canadians forget about the NDP's disregard for the same rules. Not only has the NDP been found to have broken election spending rules, Mulcair has been on record deflecting questions about his party's disregard for election rules. He has also refused to be open and transparent.
In 2012, Elections Canada found the NDP guilty of breaking election finance rules. During the 2011 election, the party took an unspecified amount of money from public unions and was ordered to pay it back. When asked about how much the NDP was forced to pay back to the United Steelworkers and Public Service Alliance Of Canada, Mulcair dodged the question by insisting his party was working with Elections Canada and was in “conformity with the law”. While deflecting, Mulcair used the opportunity to take a partisan jab at the Conservatives by saying, “Elections Canada is very clear that, unlike the Conservatives, we respect Elections Canada.” It's important to note that Elections Canada made no such comment.
The NDP's disregard for election rules and transparency didn't stop there.
The NDP was among the parties that were fined in 2013 for illegal robocalls. The party was fined $40,000 for violating robocall rules in the St-Maurice-Champlain riding in Quebec. The NDP's foreign affairs critic, Paul Dewar, was fined $7,000.
In the fall of 2011, it was also found that the NDP illegally solicited funds on behalf of the Broadbent Institute. Under Canadian law, a political party cannot solicit funds on behalf of another organization. The NDP used Jack Layton's death to solicit funds for the organization and was later forced to return all of the money to donors.
Duffy's Legal Expenses – Mulcair's And Martin's Legal Expenses
The question of who knew what and when about the $90,000 cheque made payable to Mike Duffy has been force-fed to Canadians for three years by media. What hasn't been covered with as much zeal are similar incidents involving Thomas Mulcair and other NDP MPs.
In 2005, while still a Liberal, Mulcair accused a former Parti Quebecois minister named Yves Duhaime of corruption on live television, saying, “I can't wait to see you in jail.” He was sued by Duhaime for defamation and ordered to pay $95,000 in damages. In the ruling, the judge called Mulcair's accusations against Duhaime unfounded and imprudent. Mulcair was also ordered to pay all legal costs.
Not only did the Liberal Party of Quebec pay Mulcair's legal costs, they paid the entire $95,000 worth of damages. Stephen Harper shot this fact back at Mulcair during question period in October of 2013 after Mulcair questioned a possible second cheque to Duffy for legal expenses.
In 2012, RackNine sued NDP MP, Pat Martin, for defamation after he made erroneous allegations about the company being knowingly involved in illegal robocalling. The suit was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
When it came to paying up, Martin borrowed money from the NDP. Although collecting political contributions from unions in federal politics is illegal, Martin accepted donations from several unions to pay off the loan from his own party. Martin claimed to have gone through Elections Canada and the Ethics Commission to ensure that the “gifts” he had received from the Canada Labour Congress, United Steelworkers and CUPE – among others – were completely legal.
When asked about ethics and the gifts from unions, Pat Martin said, “If anybody thinks I could become more friendly to trade unions, they don't know me very well. I'm a socialist and trade unionist and former head of the carpenter's union.”
When it comes down to it, Mulcair and his NDP have set no higher standard in Ottawa. In fact, they've only proven that the NDP is even less capable than Liberals or Conservatives at managing public money, being honest and maintaining even a remote level of transparency. The NDP and Thomas Mulcair have actually set the bar for government standards lower than it has ever been before.