Politics
Secret board rejects MP iPhone desires

Credits: REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach/Files

DAVID AKIN | PARLIAMENTARY BUREAU CHIEF

OTTAWA -- Parliament's most secretive committee -- the all-party Board of Internal Economy that sets the rules for how half-a-billion dollars is spent every year by MPs and the House of Commons -- opened its doors just a crack Tuesday, providing a few details on what it's been doing for the last six months.

Among other things, this committee, whose meetings are never open to the public or press, decided:

To let MPs bill taxpayers for accommodation expenses for spouses and kids who visit them at work in the nation's capital; cover the cost of lawyers for some MPs in legal trouble, and to remind MPs that they cannot put members of their immediate families on their office payroll.

At least one MP - and possibly more - did just that though no names were released.

It also decided to cover some of NDP MP Pat Martin's legal bills in his defamation suit but only if Martin wins at court.

Martin is being sued by marketing firm Rack Nine over comments Martin made about so-called "robocalls" during the last election and confirmed Tuesday he asked the Board of Internal Economy if the House of Commons budget could help with his growing legal bills.

The Board said that Research in Motion's BlackBerry will remain the "smartphone platform" for MPs and their aides. Some MPs wanted the House of Commons I.T. department to set them up -- and pay for -- iPhones or Samsungs.

All that information was contained in 30 pages of minutes of six meetings the secretive group held between May and October. The minutes were released Tuesday by House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer.

The group does not reveal the names of any MP whose case it considers.

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