Ex-Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe's book was paid for, in part- with cash from his Commons office budget.
Credits: QMI AGENCY
MONTREAL - Former Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe used thousands of dollars from his House of Commons office budget in 2010 to pay a retired journalist to help him produce a vanity book to highlight the 20th anniversary of his election to Parliament.
Duceppe, through a spokesman, admitted using his Commons office budget money for the separatist book project, at least initially.
But Duceppe spokesman Carole Lavallee said the former leader later refunded the House of Commons for every cent.
House spokeswoman Heather Bradley declined to confirm or deny the Bloc's claim yesterday.
Lavallee said the refund was paid when Duceppe realized the book was becoming what she called a "commercial project."
Lavallee would not say how much was used from Duceppe's budget on the book, nor how much the Bloc paid back.
She also declined to provide proof the Bloc paid the government back.
QMI Agency reviewed Bloc Quebecois' financial statements for 2010. They include no expense or footnote for a Commons refund. The party spent $600 on research and $15,760 on communications that year.
Duceppe awarded the $3,000 a month book contract to journalist Gilles Toupin of Gatineau. Toupin is a retired Ottawa bureau chief of Montreal's La Presse newspaper.
The book, called Gilles Duceppe: Talks With Gilles Toupin, was released by Montreal publisher Richard Vezina in August 2010.
In the forward, Toupin writes he conducted a series of lengthy interviews with Duceppe in the Bloc leader's ornate Parliament Hill office to about the Bloc leader's political memories as the first separatist elected to Parliament.
Other unidentified employees in Duceppe's office were paid with more House of Commons money to transcribe interviews.
Toupin edited it into chapters, supervised by France Amyot, the Bloc communications director on Parliament Hill.
Toupin called her "the orchestra conductor for this project."
Toupin was hired by Pierre-Paul Roy, Duceppe's top political adviser in Ottawa.
Toupin declined to say what he earned, saying the work lasted "at least four months."
"I worked for the Bloc and I was paid by the Bloc. Where they got the money from, I don't know," he said.
Asked to check his pay stubs, Toupin said he kept none. Asked to check T-4 tax slips, Toupin said he didn't receive slips from the Commons or Bloc - or royalties, either.
La Presse reported Saturday Duceppe used House of Commons office budget money to pay the Bloc party president's salary for years , in possible violation of House rules. More Commons money was used to pay a party staffer who co-wrote a second political book that examined the Bloc's 20 year history.
That book was also published by Rene Vezina.
Duceppe denied wrongdoing. He added he was no longer interested in a possible return to politics to become leader of the embattled provincial separatist Parti-Quebecois.