Watchdog clears Lemieux

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THE province's election watchdog says Local Government Minister Ron Lemieux did not violate campaign rules by doling out a playground grant in his riding.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/10/2011 (4080 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

THE province’s election watchdog says Local Government Minister Ron Lemieux did not violate campaign rules by doling out a playground grant in his riding.

In a ruling made Friday, Elections Commissioner Bill Bowles said Lemieux, who is running for re-election in Dawson Trail, was acting as an MLA, not a candidate, when he presented a $15,000 cheque for a playground in Landmark.

The money was handed out in August, during what’s become known as the 90-day blackout period when the government cannot publish or promote its programs or spending.

The Conservatives complained to Bowles that Lemieux’s grant violated that rule — one of at least two dozen complaints from all parties Bowles is combing through.

The Tories believed the violation was a slam-dunk and have been pleading with Bowles to rule on the matter before election day.

In his ruling, Bowles said the cheque presentation was only semi-public. Lemieux did not speak at the formal playground dedication ceremony and did not publicize his attendance. He waited until after the ceremony to give the cheque to the playground committee. A reporter from the Steinbach Carillon happened to tag along.

Bowles also said he could find no fault with a blog-style article Lemieux published a few days later on a local news site, where he touted the playground grant and posted a photo of the cheque presentation.

Candidates have an obvious right to promote their government’s record at election time, said Bowles, but they cannot act as representatives of government department, an admittedly tricky distinction.

Bowles said Lemieux was clearly acting as a candidate when he penned the online article, not a representative of the housing and community development department.

For those reason, Bowles dismissed the Conservative complaint.

History

Updated on Monday, October 3, 2011 8:12 PM CDT: fixes context as MLA, not candidate

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