OTTAWA – The federal NDP has been cleared of improprieties by the federal Commissioner of Elections over mailings sent to two Manitoba ridings around the time of 2013 byelections.
Yves Cote launched an investigation upon a complaint from Liberal MP Marc Garneau that the NDP had sent large volumes of flyers to voters in four federal ridings during byelections in the fall of 2013. That included the ridings of Provencher and Brandon-Souris in Manitoba, Bourassa in Montreal and Toronto Centre.
Garneau contended the NDP didn’t properly claim the flyers as an election expense. Cote disagreed. He said the mailings in Provencher were sent outside the writ period and therefore were clearly not election advertising. The flyers sent in Brandon-Souris were properly claimed as an election expense, he said.
Although the flyers sent in the two other ridings did arrive during the election, they were actually mailed two days before the writ was dropped, which means they were not in violation, said Cote in a letter to NDP National Director Anne McGrath sent last week.
Cote noted the NDP tried to recall the mailings when the writ was dropped but Canada Post had already begun processing them and the delivery couldn’t be stopped.
"Accordingly, these mailings were not an election expense of the NDP," Cote wrote.
Cote said he has reached the conclusion that no offense was committed.
The NDP were gleeful about the finding.
"Our opponents aren't interested in facts, just desperate, baseless attacks," said party spokesman Marc-Andre Viau.
The NDP did not win any of the byelections. The Liberals held onto both Bourassa and Toronto Centre and the Conservatives held onto the two Manitoba ridings.