Watchdog did not condemn us: Conservatives

Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:52pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's ruling Conservatives denied on Monday that an official watchdog has condemned the government for misleading legislators over spending plans, a charge that could hurt the party's election campaign.

Canadian Press said it had obtained a draft report by Auditor General Sheila Fraser about some C$50 million of expenditures for the G8 summit in June 2010, which took place in the resort town of Huntsville, Ontario, north of Toronto.

It concluded officials had decided which projects to fund "with no regard for the needs of the summit or the conditions laid down by the government," CP said.

The timing of the leak could help the main opposition Liberal Party, which trails the Conservatives badly in opinion polls ahead of the May 2 election.

John Baird, the government House leader, said the CP report was based on Fraser's first draft. A later version contained no such language, he told reporters.

"We have no problem with this report being public because we think it will show that the inflammatory parts that have been circulated are in fact not in the final report," Baird said.

The leaders of the four main political parties will hold a live televised debate on Tuesday evening and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is bound to seize on the report to bolster his position that Harper cannot be trusted.

"These are shocking revelations. I don't know how Canadians can have confidence in a government that treats public money in this way," Ignatieff said on Monday.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Auditor General Sheila Fraser speaks during a news conference in Ottawa December 9, 2010. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>