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Speaker allows Anderson letter

“The chair has concluded that there are not sufficient grounds for finding a prima facie breach of privilege in this case.”

– PETER MILLIKEN

Conservative MP David Anderson did not breach his parliamentary privileges by mailing a letter instructing Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) bal lot holders to vote for pro-open market candidates in the recent election.

House of Commons speaker Peter Milliken issued that ruling Dec. 4 fol lowing a complaint launched by Liberal MP Wayne Easter against Anderson, who is parliamentary secretary to the minister of natural resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board.

“The chair has concluded that there are not sufficient grounds for finding a prima facie breach of privilege in this case,” Milliken said.

“The chair could find a prima facie privilege in this case if arguments had been made that the distribution of the material in question defamed or in some way interfered with the member’s ability to carry out his or her parliamentary duties. But no such arguments have been made in this instance and there is no evidence to this effect.”

Easter and NDP MP Pat Martin alleged Anderson’s actions were a breach of privilege because the letter was written on House of Commons stationery and mailed for free.

Milliken said with free postage the matter would be “bet ter addres sed through administrative avenues.”

The Opposition also alleges Anderson must have had illegal access to the confidential CWB voters’ list to get the names and addresses of the people who received the letter. Anderson denies having used the voters’ list.

Martin has asked the parliamentary ethics commissioner to rule on the matter.

Several other Conservative MPs wrote similar letters to CWB voters. None of the candidates endorsed by the Conservative MPs was elected.

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About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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