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This article was published 19/12/2014 (2063 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The federal ethics commissioner has begun a preliminary inquiry into allegations Winnipeg South Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge violated conflict of interest rules when he supported new legislation that could benefit an app he’s developing.
In a letter to a Liberal MP, Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson said there is enough evidence to take a preliminary look at whether Bruinooge violated Section 8 of the conflict of interest code, which bars MPs from acting in any way to further their own private business interests or those of their family.
But Dawson said the Liberal MP who complained did not offer enough evidence to look further into a related complaint, that Bruinooge voted on a question in which he has a private interest.
Staff in Dawson’s office made it clear Friday that Dawson’s preliminary inquiry is required under the code, the first step when complaints are received. If her initial fact-finding uncovers enough evidence to proceed, a more formal inquiry will be launched.
The complaint was sparked by Newfoundland Liberal MP Scott Simms who wrote to Dawson Monday suggesting Bruinooge and Saskatchewan Conservative MP Rob Clarke violated the ethics rules because they voted repeatedly for the Fair Elections Act, one element of which will make an app Clarke and Bruinooge developed "a more enticing product for political campaigns."
The app is called ProxiVote, touted in promotional material as a tool to improve the ground game during political campaigns. It can keep track of where volunteers and a candidate are door knocking, keep lists of identified voters, including which party they support, and what their main issues are.
Until this week, an app like ProxiVote could only be used by candidate representatives outside a polling station. On Friday, the Fair Elections Act provision removing the ban on the use of mobile devices at polling stations will take effect.
It means candidates could use ProxiVote right in a polling station, making it more efficient as a voter-tracking tool.
The app is owned by a division of 6317414 MB Ltd. Bruinooge’s public disclosure to Dawson’s office in 2013 identifies his wife, Chantale Bruinooge, as the director of that numbered company, and himself as an officer in the company.
Clarke lists himself as having "a nominal interest" in the company in his public disclosure summary.
Simms said that provision will easily make ProxiVote more appealing to campaigns for purchase, and Bruinooge and Clarke should never have voted for the legislation.
Bruinooge told the Free Press Tuesday he has done nothing wrong.
"I don’t view my vote as being inappropriate," he said.
The Liberals are hoping to defeat Bruinooge in next fall’s federal election. Liberal Terry Duguid, who lost to Bruinooge by 8,500 votes in 2011, is taking another crack at the suburban riding.
—With files from Mia Rabson
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