Perhaps Andrea Horwath and the NDP don’t see the utter hypocrisy of the situation, criticizing PC MPPs for charging riding associations for expenses when she charged her party $43,585 for high-end clothing.
The NDP certainly didn’t see fit to answer questions put to them on the matter Thursday afternoon.
If you’ve missed this latest election campaign brouhaha that has nothing to do with the role or functioning of government, let me fill you in. The NDP discovered that several PC MPPs had submitted expenses to their riding associations that were approved by their elected boards because all the expenses meet the requirements set out in law and by Elections Ontario, which also approved them.
These expenses range from car allowances to meal expenses and, in at least one case, a housing top up. The total, paid for mostly with donor dollars, came to $121,499 for all seven over the course of four years.
“All riding association expenses are approved by the local riding association executive, audited by a licensed auditor, and all audited financial statements are reviewed and approved by Elections Ontario,” the PC Party said in a statement.
Some of these expenses are fully understandable, Greg Rickford, the MPP for Kenora-Rainy River represents a massive riding that stretches from Lake of the Woods on the Manitoba border north to Hudson Bay. While much of the riding isn’t drivable, the parts that are cover a distance far greater than an urban riding like Horwath’s Hamilton-Centre.
It’s worth having a debate on whether all of these expenses are justifiable or if the rules need to be tightened, but to do that properly we would need more information. And the last group that should be leading the charge on this file is Horwath’s NDP.
When I reported during the 2018 election that Horwath had expensed more than $43,000 to the NDP for clothes, her office defended it.
“Like other political leaders, she is provided with party funds — not public dollars — to purchase professional attire,” the NDP said in a statement at the time.
Yet now, the NDP is attacking PC MPPs claiming they use their riding associations as, “personal ATMs.” Riding associations are basically, the local party apparatus and funded primarily with donor dollars but also with some taxpayer subsidy just as the NDP is.
If one of these is wrong, then they’re both wrong.
While the NDP is now demanding that the PC MPPs pay back all of these funds, they refused to respond to multiple emails asking if Horwath has ever repaid the money spent on her wardrobe. They also declined to answer a basic question, how are her actions different from the MPPs she is now denouncing?
My main issue with Horwath’s hypocrisy on the clothing file in 2018 was the fact that she was heading to Holt Renfrew, a store most of her constituents couldn’t afford to enter, and blowing $5,977.70 on high-end clothes that the NDP filed under “travel” expenses in their report to Elections Ontario.
Other high-end purchases, such as a $12,055.14 charge at custom clothier W10 in Toronto’s chichi Yorkville area was labeled a “fundraising” expense while a $4,300 charge at the Bay was listed as “advertising.”
They portrayed her as a downhome Hamilton girl but dressed her in the finest clothes and tried to hide the expense. Maybe they knew that spending $43,000 on clothes for the MPP who represents an area where the median individual income was $23,552 wouldn’t go over well.
I’m all for holding elected officials to account, but Horwath didn’t think she needed to answer for her actions in 2018, and doesn’t think she needs to answer for them now, but sure wants to lecture others.
Par for the course for a champagne socialist.