Liberals accuse Jagmeet Singh of improperly using Burnaby South constituency office

Federal NDP Leader and Burnaby South MP Jagmeet Singh is being accused of improperly using his riding’s constituency office for campaign purposes.

Singh held what was billed in a news release to the NOW as an “open house” today (Friday) at 5 p.m. at his Kingsway constituency office, which is funded through tax dollars and not meant for campaigning.

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But Vancouver Centre MP Hedy Fry of the Liberal Party of Canada says in a letter to the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy that an email from the NDP sent on Wednesday makes it sound like the event was a campaign kickoff.

“It recently came to my attention that Mr. Singh is making use of his constituency office and other House of Commons resources to support his personal re-election campaign,” reads Fry’s letter. “Below is an excerpt from an email sent by the NDP on Wednesday, August 7, 2019: ‘This is your opportunity to see where the magic happens – whether you want to learn more about Jagmeet and our NDP team, you’re interested in getting involved for the first time, or you’re a longtime New Democrat whose (sic) been involved for years – we’re hoping you’ll join us. Let’s all come together and get ready to get excited, spread the word, and run the best possible campaign here in Burnaby South!’”

Fry says in her letter that this event “clearly and egregiously relates to the Member’s re-election, and is thus a direct violation of the Members By-law enacted by the Board of Internal Economy under the authority of the Parliament of Canada Act.”

Fry writes that the NDP “sent a second email later that same day, noting that ‘the email we sent you earlier today regarding an event in Burnaby was sent in error’ and advised that a ‘corrected invitation will be sent.’ A subsequent email followed, which removed the direct references made to the forthcoming federal election, but still listed the taxpayer-funded constituency office as the location.”

Fry, in her letter, accuses the NDP of violating the rules that separate the work on a campaign and the use of a taxpayer-funded constituency office.

“It is obvious to me, as I am sure it is to you, that the federal NDP are blatantly abusing House of Commons resources for electoral purposes, in direct contravention of the rules,” Fry wrote. “While all political parties host events in an effort to identify volunteers and potential supporters, that activity must be funded strictly by party resources and not parliamentary funds, regardless of that party’s financial status at the time. The NDP admitted as much when they altered their email to cover this fact up, while at the same time continuing with their planned event. This is especially concerning given that the NDP has been previously warned about this practice by the Board when, in 2015, at least 43 NDP Members held campaign-related events at their constituency offices.

The NOW has reached out to the NDP for a response, although the party told News1130 that it was a staff error and an honest mistake. The party added, according to the News1130 story, that it respects the rules of the House of Commons.

You can read the News1130 story here and Fry’s full letter here.

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