Canadians should begin to take this election more seriously.
April 18, 2011
MONTREAL - Liberals are demanding an investigation into Justice Minister Rob Nicholson’s abuse of parliamentary resources following revelations that Mr. Nicholson sent a letter to his constituents on House of Commons letterhead explicitly asking them to vote for his then-riding association president who was running for a seat on the municipal council.
The letter – which features the House of Commons’ official coat of arms and is prominently emblazoned with “Hon. Rob Nicholson, M.P.” – asks recipients to support Regional Councillor Barbara Greenwood in her re-election to the Niagara Regional Council. The letter is addressed “Dear Supporter” and was therefore likely targeted at voters who were identified as Conservatives during the last federal election.
At the time the letter was sent during the municipal election, Ms. Greenwood was the President of Rob Nicholson’s federal Conservative riding association. Ms. Greenwood stepped down as President of the Niagara Falls Electoral District Association in January 2011. Before her election to the regional council, she served as Mr. Nicholson’s Constituency Assistant (Niagara Falls Review, October 27, 2006).
“It’s bad enough that Mr. Nicholson would use parliamentary resources to endorse any municipal candidate – he knows that’s against the rules,” said Liberal justice spokesperson Marlene Jennings. “But this was his riding association president at the time. Abuse of power doesn’t get more brazen than that.”
Ms. Jennings stressed that the law in these matters is clear. The Parliament of Canada Act authorizes the House of Commons’ Board of Internal Economy to establish by-laws for the use of Parliamentary resources. Those by-laws are explicit. By-Law 301 prohibits Members of Parliament from using Members’ or House of Commons resources for printing or copying of “provincial, municipal or local election campaign material” (Members’ Office By-Law 301 3(g)).
“It would be hard for Mr. Nicholson to claim he was ignorant of the rules. He is a Minister and one of the longest-serving Conservatives in the House - having also served as an MP and Minister under Prime Ministers Mulroney and Campbell,” added Ms. Jennings. “The Justice Minister should be setting the example for all Canadians – not breaking Parliament's rules himself.”
"The Justice Minister of Canada, who has so often wrapped himself in accountability, has shown a clear disregard for the law with words that show complete contempt for ethics and accountability," said Bev Hodgson, Liberal candidate for Niagara Fall.
Ms. Jennings said she will file an official complaint with the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy and all other appropriate authorities.