Speaker won't table Elections Canada letters on Tory MPs
Published Friday, June 7, 2013 9:18PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, June 7, 2013 11:17PM EDT
House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer has rejected requests from the opposition that he table letters from Canada’s chief electoral officer advising that two Conservative MPs should be suspended over questionable election expenses.
Scheer was notified late last month that the elections watchdog found problems with returns from two Manitoba MPs -- Shelly Glover and James Bezan. In a letter to Scheer, Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand noted that both MPs had ignored repeated requests to make changes.
The Elections Act states that a sitting MP who fails to make a correction shall not continue to sit or vote as a member until the correction is made.
While opposition MPs have requested that the letter from Mayrand be tabled, Scheer said Friday that there’s no rule that indicates a letter to the Speaker is in fact a letter to the entire House of Commons.
“The chair is not aware of any precedent or practice that would suggest that letters to the Speaker, even letters from an Officer of Parliament, are de facto letters to the House as has been suggested,” Scheer said. “The chair does not know of any statutory or standing order authority that would lead to letters of this kind being tabled.”
Scheer had previously told MPs that letters would be available through Elections Canada.
However, his refusal to table the letters in the House had opposition MPs questioning his neutrality.
New Democrat Pat Martin said he didn’t agree with Scheer’s decision, which he described as “precedent-setting.”
“The speaker…made a unilateral and arbitrary judgement that they don’t need to see it. (He said) ‘I’ll deal with it’ and made a precedent-setting ruling that these guys can continue to sit in the House of Commons even though they haven’t filed election claims,” Martin told reporters on Friday.
“It calls into question his judgement,” he continued.
Meanwhile, both Glover and Bezan maintain they’ve done nothing wrong and are appealing what they call an erroneous interpretation by Elections Canada.
"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," said Glover.
Political analyst Bruce Hicks told CTV News that the chief electoral officer’s word was at one time “final.”
“It used to be the chief electoral officer was almost like a judge, appointed by Parliament to oversee elections,” Hicks said.
“What the practice now has become, under the Conservative Party in particular, is to automatically appeal.”
With a report from CTV’s Daniel Hamamdjian