The NDP has routinely violated its own election spending rules, and Manitoba's election commissioner is frustratingly slow to investigate, the Conservatives allege.

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This article was published 14/9/2011 (3692 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The NDP has routinely violated its own election spending rules, and Manitoba's election commissioner is frustratingly slow to investigate, the Conservatives allege.

Since July, Conservatives have made 14 formal complaints alleging the NDP sidestepped election rules by making government announcements during the blackout period, colluding with unions and even impersonating an Elections Manitoba enumerator.

The NDP calls the allegations "absurd." The party has made seven complaints of its own against the Tories.

Those complaints will be the first substantial test of a raft of new election and campaign-finance rules the NDP government introduced several years ago as part of new fixed-election rules.

Tory campaign co-chairman Sen. Don Plett says the rules are in place to level the playing field and to bar government from taking advantage of its ability to dole out money close to voting day.

"If they are using government funds and handing out cheques, that, to me, constitutes a very serious violation," said Plett.

The Tories are also frustrated with what they say is the plodding pace of the elections commissioner's investigation, saying a ruling cracking down on the NDP after the Oct. 4 election is essentially useless.

"It looks like people who are afraid to take the government on," said Plett.

Bill Bowles, the commissioner of elections, said thorough investigations take time.

"Our goal is to resolve complaints as quickly as we can, and we recognize there is some urgency given the date of the election," said Bowles. "But we want to make sure we do the best job we can and the pending election isn't an excuse for a sloppy investigation."

The Tories have long been critical of Elections Manitoba and the office of the elections commissioner, who ensures election laws are followed.

Following a hubbub over an NDP rebate scheme used in the 1999 election, the Tories accused Elections Manitoba of kowtowing to the ruling party and being unaccountable to the public.

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca