Winnipeg Centre Liberal Candidate Robert-Falcon Ouellette has filed a complaint with Elections Canada alleging his opponent is using public funds to campaign.
Ouellette says a mailing sent by NDP MP Pat Martin from his MP office budget should be considered an election expense, as should bus bench and garbage bin advertising Martin purchased as an MP several months before the election call.
Martin says Ouellette has nothing to worry about because he has always complied with Elections Canada rules to claim advertisements as election expenses and will this time as well.
Martin said the mailing was authorized and had been given to Canada Post to deliver before the election call, and it was too late to call it back.
The election was called on August 2, more than a month before it was expected. Several MPs were caught with mailers in the queue, including Ottawa Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre and Ottawa Liberal MP David McGuinty, and BC NDP MP Murray Rankin.
Earlier this year, Elections Commissioner Yves Cote said mailers from an MP’s office that are sent before the writ is dropped are fine and do not have to be claimed as an election expense, even if they arrive in mailboxes after the election begins.
He was ruling on a complaint against the NDP for mailings which arrived during byelections in 2013, including in Manitoba’s Provencher riding.
On the advertising front, Elections Canada made clear in 2013 that MPs don’t have to remove advertising on billboards or bus benches or similar places during an election. They just have to claim it as an election expense at current costs.
Not making proper claims nearly landed Conservatives James Bezan and Shelly Glover in court that year, as they argued with Elections Canada about claiming advertisements. Ultimately they both came to an agreement with Elections Canada about what should be claimed.
Ouellette’s press release made no mention of whether he had similar concerns about whether MPs from his own party plan to properly claim their MP advertisements.