Stephen Harper slammed for attending partisan events during northern tour

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Stephen Harper and his entourage of cabinet ministers and staffers, are touring Canada's north, this week, as part the government's annual mission to its assert arctic sovereignty.

While he's there, he's also participating in some partisan events.

On Sunday, he blasted the NDP and Liberals at a party gathering in the Yukon.

On Tuesday, according to the Hill Times, he was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at a $25-per-ticket luncheon sponsored by the Western Arctic Conservative Association.

Apparently, we are to believe that it wasn't really a 'fundraiser.'

"They are not fundraising events." PMO communications director Andrew MacDougall, told the Hill Times.

"There is no appeal for donations. The events are cost-recovered."

[ Related: Canada falling behind Arctic rival Russia as PM begins northern visit ]

It doesn't seem like Harper critics are buying that explanation. Many took to Twitter with comparisons to Senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin.

Yes, the PMO's assertion that the fundraiser isn't a fundraiser is a little hard to believe.

And, certainly, the optics of mixing government and partisan business amid the ongoing Senate expense scandal are bad.

[ More Politics: Harper’s prorogue: Good governance or an affront to democracy? ]

But is this really that wrong?

Gregory Thomas of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation doesn't think so.

"Party leaders and parliamentarians have always scheduled party-sponsored events into their tours, but they generally take care to ensure there’s also a full schedule of government business done on these trips as well," he told Yahoo! Canada News.

"The problems with some of the Senators arose when there was nothing but campaigning on the schedule and the Senate was billed for it. The Prime Minister’s schedule seems to have government business, and lots of it, every day."

And besides, if we're not happy about the way Stephen Harper — or Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair for that matter — spends taxpayer money, we can always vote him out.

Unfortunately, we can't do the same thing with the likes of Duffy and Wallin.

What do you think: is it appropriate for party leaders to attend partisan events while on government business? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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