Government business vs. Party business

The Speaker tries to draw a line in the Duffy affair

Twice yesterday during Question Period, when Thomas Mulcair had asked questions about aspects of the Duffy affair, the Speaker interjected to suggest that the questions were beyond the purview of QP.

Here are the two questions that drew the Speaker’s concern.

Was Irving Gerstein, the Conservative Party leader’s top fundraiser, aware of the scheme to use Conservative Party funds to reimburse Mike Duffy’s expenses? Yes or no?

Mr. Speaker, did the Conservative Party cover the legal fees of the other senators who are subject to the very same audit?

The Speaker has a point. Question Period is for matters within the administrative responsibility of government and these questions refer specifically to the actions of the Conservative party.

The problem here is that the questions relate to a matter that was apparently coordinated by the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, a publicly paid official of the government. A distinction between government business and party business becomes harder to identify when the highest ranking aide to the Prime Minister is involved.

The Conservatives, of course, would be on surer footing to object here if they hadn’t previously used their own spots to pose questions such as this, this and this.

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