Cullen now Parliament’s top ethics cop

SKEENA – BULKLEY VALLEY NDP MP Nathan Cullen isn't part of official opposition leader Jack Layton's shadow cabinet.

But in an announcement made yesterday Cullen, who won re-election May 2, is chair of Parliament's Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, commonly referred to as the ethics committee.

  • May. 27, 2011 7:00 p.m.

SKEENA – BULKLEY VALLEY NDP MP Nathan Cullen isn’t part of official opposition leader Jack Layton’s shadow cabinet.

 

But in an announcement made yesterday Cullen, who won re-election May 2, is chair of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, commonly referred to as the ethics committee.

 

Cullen was the NDP’s natural resources and energy critic leading up to the May federal election.

 

Cullen said that when he talked to Layton about the appointment, “It was pretty clear he was handing me something that was a pretty precious commodity, being in the spotlight, being at a place where decisions get made (and) holding the government to account.”

 

The committee, one of more than 50 main or sub committees of Parliament, either conducts reviews and investigations on matters referred to it or conducts reviews and investigations on its own.

 

The chair of the ethics committee traditionally goes to a member of the official opposition.

 

Cullen made it clear he had a choice.

 

“I could have taken on other roles. This one I felt will not leave my constituents with any less influence in the conversation on Parliament,” he said.

 

Cullen said the position puts him at the level of many cabinet ministers “and being able to talk to them as equals.”

 

He also described the job as giving him a voice “a bit above and to the side of the usual to and fro of Parliament.”

 

Saying the role can be one of influence depending on how you handle it, Cullen added, “The plan we’re putting together will allow me to be as forceful, if not more forceful than ever.”

 

Cullen’s new position does come with a pay increase. On top of his current base MP’s salary of $157,731 a year, Cullen will now receive an additional $11,165 a year for a total salary of $168,897.