Elections watchdog says two Tory MPs should be suspended over election spending

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, according to The Canadian Press.

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.