Canada Liberals file ethics complaint against government

Thu Oct 15, 2009 4:11pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Liberal Party said on Thursday it was launching an ethics complaint against the Conservative government, charging it was playing partisan politics with stimulus programs.

The Liberals lodged the complaint against Prime Minister Stephen Harper and 47 other legislators for putting their signatures at the bottom of oversized publicity checks used in announcing federal grants for infrastructure programs and other economic stimulus measures.

In the case of at least two members of Parliament, they said, the Conservative Party logo was also on the checks.

The Liberals have asked Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson to rule that putting legislators' names on the checks violates conflict-of-interest legislation that prevents office holders from doing anything officially on behalf of Parliament that furthers their "private interests."

"You know what? Staying elected is a private interest," Liberal Member of Parliament David McGuinty told a news conference.

The charges form part of a campaign under which the Liberals, the main opposition party in Parliament, assert that the government is using stimulus funds unfairly to boost Conservative re-election chances.

They complain, and the government denies, that funds are going disproportionately to electoral districts held by the Conservatives.

Harper spokesman Dimitri Soudas said it was inappropriate to have the Conservative logo on checks but there was nothing wrong with having lawmakers' signatures on them, representing their work in pushing for government projects.   Continued...