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Tories deflect fire at Immigration Minister with NDP e-mail

There was a certain amount of satisfaction on the face of Government House Leader John Baird when was handed a chance to turn the tables on the New Democrat who revealed that a staffer in Immigration Minister Jason Kenney had used parliamentary letterhead for party fundraising.

The letter and background documents were inadvertently delivered to Linda Duncan, the NDP member for Edmonton-Strathcona, who made them public and said the actions of the staffer, Kasra Najatian, "clearly violate the ethical guidelines for ministers."

Mr. Najatian was forced to resign – ministerial staff are not allowed to use government resources to promote party interests. But that didn't stop opposition calls for Mr. Kenney's resignation.

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NDP MP Pat Martin told the daily Question Period Friday that Mr. Najatian didn't get fired for an ethical breech, he got fired "because he was dumb enough to get caught. It's the minister whose head should roll for breaking faith with the Canadian people."

"... They can't pass this off on some overzealous flunky. The buck stops with the guy whose head is on the masthead."

Mr. Baird replied that Mr. Kenney had done the right thing by accepting Mr. Najatian's resignation and challenged the New Democrats to live up to the same standard.

He presented to the House an e-mail from a staff member in Ms. Duncan's office that urged supporters to help their NDP candidates get ready for an upcoming election. For details on how to work on the campaign, the staff member offered her parliamentary e-mail.

"The Immigration Minister has done the right thing," Mr. Baird said, "will the NDP member for Edmonton-Strathcona follow?"

The note from Ms. Duncan's staffer had surfaced earlier on a partisan blog.

After Question Period, Ms. Duncan said it was "absurd" to compare e-mail sent to a constituency office with "a minister of the Crown abusing his office to fundraise to try to improve the ethnic vote for his party."

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Ms. Duncan told The Globe her staff is given clear rules stipulating that no funds from the constituency are ever spent in trying to win re-election.

This was a slip in an e-mail, she said. An NDP student at the University of Alberta was rallying volunteers and gave out the e-mail address of one of Ms. Duncan's staff members as a point of contact.

"We're a political office but I am also an MP office so it happens in all parties," Ms. Duncan said. "We get e-mails from all kinds of people, whether they want to support me or get involved in my campaign, or whatever."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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