Penashue breaks silence, says constituents will get full election spending explanation

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue broke his silence over an election campaign spending scandal that has engulfed him Tuesday saying it has put him “under pressure” and in an “uncomfortable situation.”

APTN National News
OTTAWA–
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue broke his silence over an election campaign spending scandal that has engulfed him Tuesday saying it has put him “under pressure” and in an “uncomfortable situation.”

Penashue, who has sat silent during question period while opposition politicians hammered away at the scandal, told reporters that he planned to explain the situation to his Labrador constituents next Tuesday.

The Liberal party has sent two complaints to Elections Canada over Penashue’s spending during the last election. His election filings show that he appears to have spent well over the legal limit and he accepted corporate donations, which is also against electoral law.

Penashue, however, said all will be made clear once he discusses the issue with his constituents.

“I want to speak with my constituents and explain what happened during the election and I think once they hear the explanation I think they will be in a better position to understand how things unfolded,” said Penashue.

Explaining his silence in the House of Commons, the Innu Conservative MP from Labrador said he’s still uncomfortable with the cut and thrust of question period.

“It’s obviously a forum that I’m not used to. After a year and a half, I’m still not used to it but I’m learning and I’ll continue to learn,” said Penashue.

The Liberals have latched on to the issue because Penashue beat one of their own, former MP Todd Russell, by only 79 votes in the last federal election.

Liberal interim leader Bob Rae has written two letters to Elections Canada asking the electoral authority to probe Penashue’s campaign financing and numbers.

In a letter made public last Tuesday, Rae asked the electoral authority to investigate five donations which were listed under the same postal code in St. John’s.

Rae said the donations were registered as received on May 4, 2011, two days after the last federal election. Three of the donations were for $1,100, the donation limit, while the other two were for $550, according to Rae.

Rae said in the letter that the postal code used for the donations is part of a large postal station in the west-end of St. John’s. The postal code is also used by the headquarters of Pennecon Ltd.’s, a Newfoundland and Labrador-based company involved in construction, energy and real estate.

Rae stated that all five donations were made by company officers.

It is against the Canada Elections Act to accept corporate donations, to conceal the source of donations or to make a donation under someone else’s name.

In a separate letter, Rae also asked Elections Canada to probe a $25,000 loan Penashue’s campaign received from Innu Development Limited Partnership (IDLP) which was initially registered as interest free, contravening election laws which require loans to follow market interest rates. Rae also asked the electoral authority to probe a decision by an airline, partly owned by IDLP, to write off all but $7,000 of the $18,163 in travel costs incurred by Penashue and his family during the campaign.

Rae also noted that Penashue’s campaign return appear to have overshot the allowable campaign spending limit by $17, 469.

Penashue’s former official agent and campaign manager was appointed by the Harper government to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board last December

Online Producer / Ottawa

Before moving to become the APTN News social media producer, Mark was the executive producer for the news in eastern Canada. Before starting with APTN in 2009, Mark worked at CBC Radio and Television in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.

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