Tory apologizes for wrong flyers but no move to ban them
OTTAWA - A Conservative MP has apologized for misrepresenting an opponent in one of many controversial flyers his party has been mailing -- at taxpayers' expense -- across the country.
The apology came Monday just as a secretive all-party committee was meeting to discuss what, if any, limits should be placed on so-called ten-percenters -- one-page flyers that MPs are entitled to mail to households outside their own ridings.
Saskatoon MP Maurice Vellacott apologized "explicitly" and "without reservation" for the flyer sent to New Democrat MP Peter Stoffer's riding about the long gun registry. The flyer asserted that Stoffer had "worked to support the registry" when in fact he has opposed it since its inception 12 years ago.
Vellacott appeared to suggest that the flyer was produced by the Tory party and not by him or his staff, even though it went out under his name.
"I have received an undertaking from our Conservative resource group that in the future they will proofread more carefully and nuance more appropriately any ten percenter mail pieces that are sent out under my name," he said.
MPs in all parties issue the flyers which have become increasingly partisan and aggressive, particularly those sent out by the Tories. A recent analysis by Montreal's Le Devoir found Tory MPs last year issued twice the number of flyers as opposition MPs, at a cost of $6.3 million.
Last week, Liberals were incensed to discover a Tory flyer that linked the Liberal party to anti-Semitism. It was sent to thousands of households in a half dozen opposition-held ridings with large Jewish populations.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff proposed over the weekend that MPs be banned from sending flyers outside their own ridings.
The proposal was expected to be discussed during a closed-door meeting Monday of the board of internal economy, the governing body of the House of Commons. The board operates by consensus and members are bound by strict confidentiality.
However, both the Conservatives and New Democrats had indicated before the meeting that they don't want to end the ability to MPs to communicate with voters outside their own ridings, although the NDP favours restrictions to prevent the most partisan excesses.
Ignatieff reiterated Monday that the anti-Semitism flyers were "outrageous" and proved the need for more drastic action.
"It crosses a line so flagrantly that, you know, I just don't think this regime can be sustained and so I regret the decision of the other parties," he said.