Lib­er­als ac­cused of us­ing pub­lic funds to cam­paign

The Peterborough Examiner - - Canada & World - NI­COLE THOMP­SON The Cana­dian Press

TORONTO — On­tario’s Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives have ac­cused the gov­ern­ing Lib­er­als of spend­ing pub­lic funds on cam­paign­style events ahead of the spring elec­tion, and have asked Elec­tions On­tario to in­ves­ti­gate.

Tory of­fi­cials said Mon­day that party lawyers sent a let­ter to the agency re­spon­si­ble for ad­min­is­ter­ing pro­vin­cial elec­tions, al­leg­ing the Lib­er­als held events this month ad­ver­tis­ing “po­lit­i­cal plat­forms” rather than gov­ern­ment pro­grams.

Cam­paign ad­viser Frank Klees told a news con­fer­ence that the Lib­er­als have taken “a scan­dalous ap­proach ... to cam­paign­ing.”

“Over the last two weeks, (Premier) Kath­leen Wynne and the Lib­eral party have been shame­lessly cam­paign­ing on the tax­payer’s dime,” he said. “Just to­day, Wynne sent out four of her min­is­ters across the GTA to make ad­di­tional cam­paign stops.”

The Tories said the Lib­eral party should foot the bill for those events, not tax­pay­ers.

“We’re ask­ing Elec­tions On­tario to in­ves­ti­gate this, and we would call on — and we trust Elec­tions On­tario will call on — the Lib­eral party to re­im­burse the tax­pay­ers,” Klees said.

Elec­tions On­tario de­clined to com­ment on whether it had re­ceived the com­plaint or if it would be in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

Lib­eral cam­paign co-chair Deb Matthews re­jected the Tory al­le­ga­tions, say­ing Wynne is do­ing “what she’s al­ways done. She is do­ing gov­ern­ment an­nounce­ments of gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives.

A spokesper­son for Wynne later said in a writ­ten state­ment the al­le­ga­tions are hyp­o­crit­i­cal.

“As the leader of the Op­po­si­tion, (Doug) Ford re­lies on a large num­ber of staff at the leg­is­la­ture who are paid by the tax­payer,” An­drea Er­ne­saks wrote.

The elec­tion is set for June 7.

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