NDP: Harper wastes political opportunity and money with Trudeau

Julian Wolfe
June 19th, 2013

The NDP aren’t thrilled with the way the Conservatives are handling the Grace Foundation’s “political gift” to them. All the while, the Conservatives are under fire over PMO resources that went to this partisan attack. The NDP had hoped to make political gains by having the Conservatives take the brunt for attacking Liberal leader Justin Trudeau who is ahead in the polls.

“You had a political gift. It was gift-wrapped for you. This was the easiest thing in the world and just out of sheer stupidity, blockheadedness and spite you’re blowing it.

The Conservatives are starting to sound ridiculous on this. The story of Mr. Trudeau’s charging outrageous fees to schools spoke for itself. Just leave it at that.”

Charlie Angus, NDP Ethics Critic, To the Conservatives

Just to add insult to injury, former Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber said “I see that as a very inappropriate use of taxpayers’ funds.”

“If the party mechanism wants to come up with those types of products or engage in that type of purely partisan warfare, that should come from the party machinery, not from the taxpayer-funded PMO.”

The controversy arose after a local Barrie paper, The Advance, leaked the PMO material offering rather than following the guidelines. Had they followed the guidelines, 2007 speaking events would have been scrutinized and the data would have came from a “source.”

Angus said the Conservatives squandered a chance to point out Trudeau’s “outrageous fees to schools.” One of these schools is Guelph University – leaked by the PMO.

Lori Bona Hunt, a spokeswoman for Guelph University, said she has no intention of asking for a $7,500 refund for the speech he made in 2006.

It’s certainly a non-issue,” Bona Hunt said. “We did not ask and we don’t plan to ask for Mr. Trudeau to pay back any money.”

She didn’t know how the PMO got the information about the event at the University but said she doesn’t plan to investigate.

Meanwhile, Gregory Thomas, spokesman for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said “the Prime Minister’s Office is as political a place in Ottawa as anywhere,” condemning the use of taxpayer money on recent partisan attacks.

“What I think most Canadians hope is happening in the Prime Minister’s Office and with their taxpayer dollars is that it is doing work for them and cleaning up the expense problems in the House of Commons and Senate,” he said.

“It’s possible for the prime minister to refocus his staff in a hurry if he wants to. The prime minister needs to take a long look in the mirror and ask if this is what people voted for.”

Whether you think it is ethical for government officials to be accepting money from charities or other speaking events during their tenure isn’t the issue. The issue is the Conservatives are looking to distract peoples’ attention from the Duffy affair which is taking a hit on their poll numbers and the NDP, who are in third nationally, are looking for a political opportunity to slow down Trudeau’s growth as Liberal leader. While it is arguable that this is politics and everyone winds up being opportunists at some point, it is worth noting the NDP have long been the party of “fixing Ottawa” and have long been the party standing against such political opportunism. It is worth noting that in light of the Trudeau distraction and the transparency debate, the “fix Ottawa” mantra is nothing but a political opportunity itself.

What do you think of the NDP’s response to the Conservatives’ handling of the charity controversy? What do you think of the Conservatives’ decision to use the PMO to fuel partisan attacks?

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