Liberals ask Elections Canada to probe suspect donations to Penashue

Liberals ask Elections Canada to probe suspect donations to Penashue

APTN National News
Liberal interim leader Bob Rae has asked Elections Canada to probe five donations given to embattled Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue.

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

Rae says 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 says 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 states 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 light of the nature of these donations, namely, the simultaneous timing of the donations, their dollar value, the postal address given and the shared place of employment of the donors, I feel it would be prudent to conduct a deeper examination,” wrote Rae.

Penashue, an Innu MP from Labrador, is already facing controversy over spending irregularities during his campaign in the last federal election. He won the riding over former Liberal MP Todd Russell by 79 votes.

Rae sent a letter to Elections Canada two days ago asking for a probe into 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.

“I submit that this matter is quite serious because, taken together, these irregularities could have certainly had an impact on the outcome of the election in Labrador,” wrote Rae.

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

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