Two Conservative MPs should be suspended over election spending, watchdog says - Macleans.ca
 

Two Conservative MPs should be suspended over election spending, watchdog says


 

OTTAWA – The chief electoral officer has told the Speaker of the House of Commons that two Manitoba Conservative MPs should be suspended because of questioned election expenses.

The two, Shelly Glover and James Bezan, say they will go to court over what they call erroneous interpretations by Elections Canada.

John Enright, spokesman for the elections watchdog, says auditors found problems with returns from both MPs’ returns and requested changes. The campaigns refused to make the changes.

“In these cases, the chief electoral officer wrote to the Speaker of the House to inform the House of the situation so that appropriate action could be taken,” he said. “That’s where we are.”

Enright says the Elections Act is clear: “An elected candidate, a sitting MP, who fails to make a correction requested by the CEO shall not continue to sit or vote as a member until the correction is made.”

The next step is up to Speaker Andrew Scheer, Enright said.

“The House is sovereign. The House needs to decide. We’ve informed them this is what the legislation said.”

Bezan said in a statement that Elections Canada has unfairly changed the rules.

“Elections Canada approved my campaign returns for the 2006 and 2008 elections but have now changed their interpretation, which is not consistent with the Act’s provisions,” he said.

“Elections Canada is not being fair or reasonable in their application of the Act.

“My campaign has complied with the Elections Canada Act. This is an accounting dispute between the campaign and Elections Canada.”

Glover echoed that complaint: “My campaign in 2011 complied fully with the Elections Act. Elections Canada has ordered that I claim expenses that my campaign did not incur, which is not consistent with the Act’s provisions.”

Bezan and Glover both said they will fight the elections watchdog in court.

Pierre Poilievre, parliamentary secretary to the minister of transport, who often parries question period attacks on the Harper government, defended Glover and Bezan.

“These members acted in good faith,” he said in the Commons. “Due to legitimate differences of opinion, Elections Canada’s interpretation of the rules is now before the courts. That is the members’ right to pursue.”

Enright said Elections Canada auditors work with campaigns to reconcile their reports.

“There’s often back and forth between that auditor and the campaign to make things right,” he said.

“More often than not, it’s inadvertent errors, wrong column, inverted numbers, they fix them, they go back and forth.

“If, after that review, the auditor finds that there are errors in the return there’s a request made to the candidate’s agent to file a corrected return.”

If the campaign doesn’t correct the report, the chief electoral officer can make an official request for a correction. If that is refused, the chief has no choice but to notify the Commons.

Enright says candidates can go to court to ask to be excused from complying with a request for a correction.

But that doesn’t change the situation about suspension, he added.

“Irrespective if they are before the courts, they didn’t satisfy the original request.”

Enright said he hasn’t done any formal research, but can’t remember a similar case.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I don’t recall this having come up.”

Election expense troubles have already cost Prime Minister Stephen Harper a cabinet minister.

Peter Penashue was minister of intergovernmental affairs when he was hit by allegations of campaign financing irregularities. His campaign accepted thousands of dollars in ineligible contributions.

Penashue announced in March he would resign and seek vindication in a byelection. He lost to Liberal Yvonne Jones in the vote last month.


 
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Two Conservative MPs should be suspended over election spending, watchdog says

  1. Take their pensions away and boot them from any taxpayer funded job.

  2. In & Out convictions; Penashue resigns over spending; Del Mastro being investigated; Vic Toews’ provincial election overspending conviction; now thes two (and I’m sure I’ve missed some)…
    How is it the public keeps ignoring the obvious pattern of electoral abuse and fraud? Shouldn’t we be storming Parliament Hill brandishing torches and pitchforks (or whatever the modern-day equivalent) and forcing this bunch out out?
    How much you wanna bet Scheer just shrugs his shoulders, says “pols will be pols”, and lets them continue in their duties?

  3. Little did any of us realize when we made fun of Stock’s unreported crimes that he was referring to his own caucus.

  4. The Senate should pass a motion to stop funding the commons.

    Abolish the house of commons! Nobody knows what they’re doing except for fundraising for their party.

    • Find out what your MP spends just going home:

      http://parl.gc.ca/PublicDisclosure/MemberExpenditures.aspx?Language=E&Year=2011-20

      Don’t just look at tories, don’t forget to look at your favouraite dipper or lib MP – example, good ole Ralph Goodale managed to spend nearly 200K in one year travelling. All this time travelling, what the hell, when is he ever in parliament doing his job??

      • For one thing an MPs job is not strictly in parliament. For another, unlike these two MPs, the legality of Mr. Goodale’s spending is not a problem. It is within the rules.