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Glover awaits spending penalty

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OTTAWA -- Saint Boniface MP Shelly Glover exceeded her 2011 election expense limit by more than $2,200, her latest claims with Elections Canada show.

Glover filed a new elections return with the agency June 13, and the chief electoral officer, Marc Mayrand, has accepted the changes. Glover's campaign and Mayrand were locked in a battle over how she accounted for the cost of bus-bench and garbage-bin advertising she had taken out as an MP but remained in place during the 2011 campaign.

Glover's lawyer argued the ads were not election ads and shouldn't be claimed as election expenses. Mayrand said they clearly advertised her during an election, and noted she had even affixed stickers to them saying they were authorized by her official agent, therefore she had to claim them.

There was also a dispute about the amount of money paid to two staffers.

In late May, Mayrand wrote to House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer informing him Glover and Selkirk-Interlake MP James Bezan should both be subjected to suspension under a clause of the Elections Act that does not permit an MP to sit or vote in the House of Commons if they haven't submitted election returns as required by the chief electoral officer.

Both MPs challenged Mayrand in court and Scheer declined to suspend either MP until after the court challenges were finished. However, on June 13, Glover submitted a new election return that responded to the issues around her advertising and salary claims and Elections Canada was satisfied with them.

"We would first like to inform you that the corrected version you submitted on June 14, 2013, has been accepted by Elections Canada," Mayrand wrote to Ryan Vernon, the official agent for Glover's 2011 campaign.

The new claims increase her advertising expenses by $3,018.94 to account for the bus-bench and garbage-bin ads. Glover also backed away from trying to change how much the campaign paid two staffers. Originally, the campaign paid them $15.54 and $25.64 an hour for work including office administration, media content, volunteer co-ordination and election-day work. However, in early May, Conservative party lawyer Arthur Hamilton wrote to Mayrand saying those wages were wrong, the two only went door-knocking and should only have been paid $10 an hour. He said they had returned the overpayments, which were being held in trust until the campaign determined where the money should go.

Mayrand rejected that request, saying employment contracts submitted by Glover contradict the idea the two were hired only for door-knocking.

The June 13 file returns the wages paid to the original amounts.

All told, Glover's new total campaign-expense claim is $84,354.60, an increase of $2,927.89 over what she originally claimed in 2011. That puts her $2,267.61 over her spending limit.

The updated form means she is no longer facing possible suspension from the House.

However, exceeding the spending limit likely will bring a new problem, as it is an offence under the Elections Act, punishable by a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000, a jail term of three months to five years, or both. The higher penalties are reserved for people who are deemed to have "wilfully" exceeded the spending limit.

Glover would not comment on the case Friday. Bezan has not filed any new expense forms and is still set to argue his case in court in September.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 22, 2013 A14

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