SOME constituents may have been surprised at getting a Member of Parliament mail out from New Democrat Nathan Cullen after the federal election had been called.
The taxpayer-financed mail out, which appeared in Terrace mailboxes early last week, several days after the May 2 election call, trumpeted Cullen’s annual tour of the riding in which he hosts economic forums.
While the mail outs are regarded as a way for a Member of Parliament to keep in touch with his or her constituents in the regular course of business, they are not to be used for political purposes.
Cullen, who is running for re-election, said the mail out was in the printing and distribution stream well before Parliament was officially dissolved March 26.
“Generally speaking it takes well over a month from the moment such things have been submitted to the House of Commons print shop to the time they hit the doorsteps,” said Cullen in an email.
“Yes, if the mail out is with Canada Post prior to the writ drop, it is allowed as we can’t pull it back by that point.”
The economic forum mail out, a folded 8.5 X 14 piece of paper, is called a Ten Percenter. Every household in a riding gets one. The name comes from a guideline requiring that half of the content must change at each 10 per cent level of printing.
It means, for example, that while Cullen’s forums can be the central theme on the front page of every Ten Percenter printed, there need to be content changes on the back page.
MPs can distribute as many Ten Percenters a year as they wish. They are, however, restricted to four booklet-type householders a year.
MPs are not charged for the production, printing or mailing of any of the material. Cullen did not know the cost of the most recent Ten Percenter.