Last week the federal New Democrats as the Official Opposition accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of misleading Parliament.
While this may sound like nothing new, just an opposition party pointing fingers and saying the governing party did something wrong, it is different, said Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen.
This time, the NDP introduced the comaplaint as a point of “privilege” which requests Speaker Andrew Scheer find Harper misled Parliament during the Senate spending scandal involving Senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin.
The NDP allege Harper was not telling the truth when he maintained no one but Nigel Wright in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) knew about the bail out for Sen Mike Duffy.
Wright, Harper’s chief of staff in the PMO gave Duffy a $90,000 cheque in order to pay back Senate expenses he had improperly claimed for things like a housing allowance he didn’t qualify for.
While Wright resigned and Harper said the cheque was Wright’s own independent initiative, an RCMP affidavit filed during the course of their investigation into the incident stated at least three other people in the PMO allegedly also knew about the payment.
Wright named three others he had informed of the payment, according the the RCMP affidavit.
The Conservatives continue to dismiss the accusation the Prime Minister lied to the House as a stunt on the part of the NDP to try and keep the Senate spending scandal in the media. They were instead pointing out the European trade deal in the works and what benefits the opening up of trade with the European Union could mean to Canada.
Raising a “matter of privilege” in the House of Commons is meant to “maintain the respect and credibility due to and required of each House” according to the Parliament of Canada. Should the Speaker deem the allegation by the NDP to have merit and meet the requirements for further consideration, then the members of Parliament will put all other business aside to deal with the allegation.
Cullen defended the move as holding the Prime Minster to account for his actions.