Manitoba MP Shelly Glover’s latest election filings show she exceeded the spending limit, signalling her fight with Elections Canada isn’t over.
Ms. Glover fended off suspension from the House of Commons earlier this week after submitting revised campaign documents from the 2011 election. Speaker Andrew Scheer cited the “corrected return” in denying a request by Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand to indefinitely bar Ms. Glover from sitting in the House of Commons.
But Ms. Glover’s latest return also isn’t complete. In a letter sent to her Thursday and obtained by The Globe and Mail, Elections Canada informs the MP that “some adjustments are still required.” Elections Canada does, however, accept Ms. Glover’s latest total of her campaign’s spending – $84,354.60, or $2,267.61 over her limit, which is spelled out in another document.
Ms. Glover has fought Mr. Mayrand over the issue, and last month began a process to take him to court. Her case was scheduled for a hearing Thursday in Winnipeg, but she withdrew her request for it. No new hearing has been scheduled, court officials say.
Ms. Glover declined to discuss the case. Her office directed The Globe to a one-sentence statement from June 18: “I continue to work in good faith with Elections Canada to resolve this issue as I have always done.”
Her public Elections Canada campaign file includes correspondence between both sides, and paints a picture of some of the issues. Elections Canada has raised concerns around her campaign’s use of a website, the use of a billboard and under-valuing of some election expenses. The latter move “would render both the election expenses limits and the contribution limits ineffective,” Mr. Mayrand wrote in one letter to Ms. Glover’s lawyer.
In particular, the two sides clashed over the work of some of Ms. Glover’s aides. Lisa Rowson and Patricia Rondeau were hired by the campaign at $15.54 an hour and $25.64 an hour, respectively, told they would collectively be doing volunteer co-ordination, media co-ordination and office administration.
The campaign then sought to record the expenses as $10 an hour, saying the two women did only “door-knocking” and that “Ms. Rowson and Ms. Rondeau agree that they were overpaid.” Lowering the wages would have cut costs and helped the campaign stay under the limit. Mr. Mayrand refused that request, saying the amount “claimed as an election expense is the actual amount paid.”
Ms. Glover’s election return also shows both Ms. Rondeau and Ms. Rowson worked for Ms. Glover’s office, and were kept partially on the government payroll for part-time hours, the rest of their wages coming from the campaign.
This would be permissible if, during Parliament work hours, they did no work related to Ms. Glover’s campaign. Nothing in the Elections Canada documents indicates how Ms. Rondeau and Ms. Rowson split their time. A third staffer of Ms. Glover, Myrrhanda Novak, also remained on part-time government work during the campaign.
Ms. Glover’s campaign return also shows she or her staff regularly bought large amounts of groceries – at least 36 different claims totalling over $2,100. A particular favourite was bologna, ham and rye bread, some combination of which was purchased on 11 different occasions, in addition to a $323.52 claim from “Sausage Makers,” a food store.
Campaigns are permitted to expense costs a candidate “would not normally incur if there was no election,” and many candidates expense food for staff. Elections Canada auditors appear to have approved Ms. Glover’s campaign’s food spending.
It’s against the law to willfully exceed elections limits or to willfully file an incorrect return. Penalties range generally from a small fine or brief prison stay, to a maximum $5,000 fine and five years in prison. Once finalized, 60 per cent of Ms. Glover’s election expenses will be reimbursed by taxpayers, in keeping with Elections Canada rules.