For the past couple of days, NDP MP Bill Siksay, in his role as the party’s ethics critic, has stood up during Question Period to ask about questionable activities during the last election by Conservative MP Gary Lunn, currently the Minister of State for Sport (though at the time, he was the Natural Resources Minister).
Whereas yesterday, his questions were answered by the Minister of Heritage, James Moore, whose only real response was that Conservatives “always follow the rules,” today the Speaker disallowed both of Siksay’s questions on the matter, saying that the matter was not the administrative responsibility of the government, and therefore not admissible during Question Period.
I spoke to Siksay after Question Period today about the issue.
Q: Give me a little more background – how did you come about these findings?
A: From a media report initially, in the Tyee there’s a very extensive article on these third-party funding arrangements that were happening in this riding in particular, but the concern is that there are four previously unheard of groups who registered to do third-party spending in the last campaign, all of whom supported Mr. Lunn’s campaign. All four of these groups have the same financial officer, the same four of them gave the same address, and it’s the office of someone who is on Mr. Lunn’s riding executive and was also a senior Conservative campaign official in the 2006 campaign, and still an active member of Mr. Lunn’s riding association, and one of the groups purchased signs from Mr. Lunn’s campaign manager in this last campaign. There are a lot of linkages to Mr. Lunn, and what it appears to be is perhaps an end run around the election-spending limit in his riding. He almost spent the limit – he was about $2000 under. The spending that these groups would have totalled around just under $12,000, so if they were things that should have been charged to the campaign, it would have put it well over.
Q: You’ve brought this to the Elections Commissioner?
A: Yes, I wrote the Elections Commissioner yesterday about this, asking them to investigate it further.
Q: The Speaker disallowed your questions on this. Are you going to try again tomorrow?
A: Yeah – we’re not giving up on it. We’re trying to figure out the angle, and we’re trying to figure out what the Speaker’s ruling exactly means. Clearly we’ve had questions in the House before on elections spending and election funding – the “In and Out” stuff in particular was all about that. I don’t quite understand what the Speaker was getting at with his ruling, but we’re going to continue to pursue.