Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Respect for taxpayers!

Is there anything else we taxpayers can get for you Conservatives as you seek to improve your partisan interests?
A departing Conservative MP used publicly funded House of Commons resources to back his political successor — a candidate who once headed the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and was a senior aide to the prime minister.

"As we prepare for the next federal election, the following few months are extremely important. The prime minister wants the party to present the best slate of candidates possible in all 308 ridings," MP Greg Thompson wrote on Commons letterhead of the contest to replace him in New Brunswick Southwest.

"I also believe it is important that you know exactly why I'm supporting John Williamson as our next Conservative candidate and MP."

The letter, sent using parliamentary mailing privileges, is one of a list of grievances cited by local Tories over how the nomination contest unfolded in one of Canada's largest ridings.
Commons bylaws state that parliamentary resources should not be used for electoral campaigning. Thompson, former veterans affairs minister, said he believed his letter fell within the rules and that party members are ultimately constituents.
Thompson is maintaining that he did nothing wrong and is encouraging those with concerns to take them up with the Speaker. Hope someone does. A sitting Conservative MP using parliamentary resources to advocate for Stephen Harper's departing Director of Communications as a successor candidate is an issue that should be challenged.

The former Canadian Taxpayers Federation head who is now the candidate (the same former Director of Communications) has commented vaguely on that particular detail, the use of taxpayer funds for his political benefit:
"I was appreciative of his support and I know that other candidates wanted it, they were climbing all over themselves for it, but ultimately Greg did what Greg thought was best," Williamson said.
That's the only quote in the reporting, so it appears that Williamson is not objecting to the use of taxpayer funds in this manner. Seemingly putting it on Thompson to defend the method. Williamson should be prodded on that during the election campaign (and this bit of Conservative spending hijinks too). This is the kind of thing which could help to undermine his credentials as guardian of those taxpayer dollars, sure to be at the heart of his campaign. There's lots of material to be had from the Harper Conservatives' record on use of taxpayer dollars to put to Williamson. That would be a fun one.