Del Mastro needs to step down, says opposition 0
Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro prepares for the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in Ottawa on March 6, 2012. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI Agency)
Opposition members on Friday called for the prime minister's parliamentary secretary to step down after it was learned Dean Del Mastro allegedly exceeded his campaign spending limit in the 2008 federal election.
In an affadavit sworn by an Elections Canada official, the Tory MP for Peterborough is alleged to have knowingly exceeded campaign expense limits, neglected to report all spending to Elections Canada and gone out of his way to cover his tracks.
"I think he should step aside," Liberal leader Bob Rae told reporters. "There is an investigation going on and they can't pretend the allegations aren't serious. No one's demanding his resignation as an MP. We're simply saying: 'Look, you can't have an executive position in the government and be under an investigation of this kind. This is not simply about some kind of minor clerical error' ... this has to do with his own personal activity.'
At issue is a $21,000 personal cheque written to Holinshed Research Group for voter-contact calls.
The Elections official believes Del Mastro knew the amount would put him over his spending limit and therefore paid the amount from his personal account.
Del Mastro has maintained he did no wrong and wants open conversation with Elections Canada. Last week Del Mastro told QMI Agency he would be presenting documents that would clear his name. Those records have been provided to the riding association and consitutency office but have not yet been made public.
In the meantime, Opposition MPs say the fact Del Mastro has neither stepped aside voluntarily nor been asked to by the prime minister puts the government in an unflattering light.
"These are not allegations made by MPs, these are statements contained in court documents made in good faith by Elections Canada," Rae said. "I don't think it's right for Del Mastro to stay and it is not right for Harper to keep him there. Increasingly, frankly this is becoming less and less about Del Mastro and more and more about Harper."
Del Mastro maintained Friday that he's innocent.
"My campaign followed all of the rules. We submitted the documents. They have been audited and verified," Del Mastro wrote in an e-mail to QMI Agency.
Elections Canada sought court orders for documents that would have been given freely if asked, he insisted.
"I am saddened and disappointed that this has been their preferred course but will vigorously defend myself moving forward."