Accusations that the federal New Democratic Party has used parliamentary resources for partisan mass mailings has raised questions about other parties’ use of taxpayer-funded promotions.
In May, the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy ordered the NDP to repay Parliament $36,000 for partisan mailings and a further $1.13 million to Canada Post.
In turn, the NDP has asked the Federal Court for a review of the decision.
A report from Commons Board staff is quoted as saying they “were not messages from the individual members as members, but rather were prepared by and for the benefit of the NDP as a political party and to advance electoral purposes.”
Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes sends information to his constituents. He says he sends two types: one, a ‘householder,’ and the other, a ‘ten per cent-er.’
He said there are two reasons the NDP has been taken to task. Firstly, they used the NDP logo and, secondly, they asked for money.
The householders Mayes sends out are larger documents, while the 10 per cent-ers, which are so named as they can be sent to 10 per cent of an MP’s constituents, are 8.5 by 11 sheets.
The most recent one states: “Our Conservative government is standing up for hard-working Canadian families.”
Further down the page is what looks like a small survey – the same format that was on a sampling of four other Mayes’ 10 per cent-ers.
The most recent one asks: “Who’s on the right track to support Canadian families?” Below the question on one side are the names of four parties: the Greens, the Conservatives, the NDP and the Liberals, with a box to be marked beside each one. On the other side is a space for the reader to fill out their name, address, telephone number and email address.
Mayes said the 10 per cent-ers are made by a Conservative support group which is paid by the party to put them out.
“It gives me an indication whether people feel we’re doing the right things as government.”
Mayes says he doesn’t distribute all of the 10 per cent-ers he could.
“Some in my opinion are a little offensive as they have pictures of Mr. Mulcair or Mr. Trudeau… If you look at my budget from the last three years, I hardly sent out many.”
He said the communication is political, nonetheless.
“We’re definitely political – good things the government is doing. I’m sure the NDP says the bad things the government is doing.”
Mayes admits he got in a little trouble himself a couple of years ago when he used a Conservative banner with political announcements.
“The Liberals complained about it.”
Another general issue was when some mail-outs went to ridings other than Conservatives, he said. The Liberals and NDP were not happy, the Conservatives agreed and the rules were changed – politicians can no longer send mail-outs to outside ridings.