Green Party asks Ethics Commissioner to investigate Stephen Harper’s role in Labrador byelection

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

It's been suggested that the Conservatives are playing political games ahead of a byelection in Labrador.

The vote, of course, was triggered when Tory MP Peter Penashue resigned, in March, after it was learned that his 2011 election campaign team had accepted ineligible donations.

On the one hand, Penashue did the right thing: he stepped down and is running again.

But are the Conservatives giving him an unfair advantage?

[ Related: Something smells rotten in Peter Penashue's riding of Labrador ]

Elizabeth May thinks so.

The Green Party leader has written a letter to Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson asking her to "undertake an examination" of Stephen Harper's actions concerning Penashue.

The first questionable decision by Prime Minister Stephen Harper is allowing Mr. Penashue to make a $1.35 million spending announcement in his riding on March 11, 2013, just days before Mr. Penashue resigned his seat. I am asking you to investigate whether the prime minister knew that Mr. Penashue was going to resign and whether he made the decision to allow Mr. Pensahue to make that announcement knowing that Mr. Penashue would soon run as a candidate in a by-election in the riding.

The second questionable decision is that by calling the election on April 7th before prosecutors decided whether to charge Mr. Penashue or others involved in his 2011 election campaign for violations of the Canada Elections Act, Prime Minister Harper is essentially furthering Mr. Penashue's private interests by not allowing voters in the riding to know whether independent investigators at Elections Canada and prosecutors have concluded that there is enough clear evidence of violations to prosecute.

May suggests that Harper broke Sections 4 and 6 of the Conflict of Interest Act by improperly furthering Mr. Penashue's private interest.

A spokesperson from Dawson's office has confirmed that they have received May's request but says that their office is precluded from providing any specific details on any investigation.

[ Related: Beating Peter Penashue in Labrador byelection would be first win for Trudeau’s Liberals ]

Regardless of Dawson's conclusions, it looks like Labrador will be a struggle for the Tories.

The latest Forum Research poll, published in the Hill Times, suggests that Liberal candidate Yvonne Jones has a whopping 30 point lead over Penashue: Jones' support is pegged at 60 per cent support compared to Penashue's at 29 per cent.

The byelection will be held on May 13th.

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