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Courts an option to find answers in election expenses rebate issue: Opposition

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The Tories are considering appealing to the courts to get to the bottom of Elections Manitoba's investigation of an NDP campaign rebate issue.

Flanked by Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard, Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen said the courts are an "absolute last resort" if pressure for an inquiry goes nowhere in the fall.

The duo gathered their MLA's together this morning in a meeting room in the Manitoba Legislature for a mock sitting of the legislative affairs committee. That's the committee that hears from the chief electoral officer about once a year – the only time he speaks publicly.

The opposition invited Chief Electoral Officer Richard Balasko to attend and answer questions but he declined, saying he is accountable to the legislature in its entirety. In a letter to the opposition leader, Balasko reiterated that his office acts indepedently and treats all parties the same.

The Doer government has been in hot water this spring over a the approach it used in the 1999 election to max out taxpayer-funded rebates all campaigns get to offset some expenses.

The NDP listed full-time union workers as expenses instead of donations in kind and reaped $76,000 in rebates that Elections Manitoba later ordered the party to pay back.

The issue recently made news again when the Tories released a series of letters suggesting the NDP had obstructed Elections Manitoba's investigation.

The Tories and Liberals also say Elections Manitoba went easy on the ruling party, choosing not to lay charges even though other MLAs have faced charges.

History

Updated on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 11:28 AM CDT: Updated.

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