Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Conservative spending hijinks in New Brunswick?

This Canadian Press report about partisan games going on with federal spending in New Brunswick got much worse for the Conservatives as the day wore on. Already under the magnifying glass for the billion dollar G20 spending and the pork-barrelling in Tony Clement's riding, these allegations about New Brunswick federal spending hijinks will pour more gasoline onto the bonfire that Conservative fiscal management has become:
New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham says the prime minister needs to address allegations that a member of his cabinet is playing politics by delaying funding announcements until after the province's election on Sept. 27.

Graham, a Liberal, said Wednesday he wants to discuss with Stephen Harper the allegations made by Conservative MP Greg Thompson about his colleague, Tory MP Keith Ashfield, who is the minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Thompson, who resigned as veterans affairs minister in January and isn't running in the next federal election, said he has an email from Ashfield's chief of staff suggesting that projects in his riding of New Brunswick Southwest should be put on hold until there's a new Tory candidate and until after the provincial election.

"My opinion, put everything on hold in that riding until there is a nominated federal candidate, and preferably until after Sept. 27," the email from Fred Nott states.

Thompson said he took the issue directly to Ashfield on Monday in Ottawa.

"He said we're not going to be carrying the province on our backs into the next election and them getting the credit for all the projects," Thompson said. "He said that with his own lips to me in the House of Commons."
If true, this would be clearly unacceptable partisan manipulation of government funds for Conservative gain. And smoked out by a freed up exiting Conservative from the federal scene. Conservative MP Greg Thompson spoke out this afternoon on CBC's Power & Politics on the issue, that video, now online is worth watching and this Telegraph Journal report from earlier today referencing the email in question also worth a read. Thompson seemed to be laying the responsibility at the feet of a Conservative staffer, what you might expect from a Conservative MP politely trying to shield a fellow Conservative from the heat. But as we know, the Conservatives are all about ministerial accountability, right?