Taxpayers will foot the bill for Harper’s lawyer in Guergis lawsuit

The federal government has hired a private lawyer at taxpayers’ expense to represent the prime minister and three other people in a lawsuit brought by former Tory cabinet minister Helena Guergis, according to Postmedia News.

According to the report, instead of using a staff lawyer from the Department of Justice, the government hired one of Canada’s top litigation lawyers, Robert Staley, to represent Prime Minister Harper, the Conservative Party of Canada and other defendants in the case.

From Postmedia News:

Andrew MacDougall, Harper’s spokesman, said Tuesday that the prime minister’s “counsel is being paid the standard rate that would be paid to a DoJ (department of justice) lawyer.” He did not specify the amount of that rate.

He said part of the claim involves issues related to “membership in cabinet” – Harper turfed Guergis from cabinet – and that this “is outside of the areas DoJ counsel would typically be involved in.”

NDP MP Charlie Angus said he’s not convinced.

“It raises a flag with me,” he said Tuesday, noting there are already justice department lawyers on staff with the required expertise. “It’s troubling, because if we have competent, very qualified lawyers able to do it who are already on staff, why are we going to the private sector for outside lawyers? And can we be assured that they are not bringing in high-priced lawyers that are going to ding the taxpayer more?”