A Liberal challenger apologized Tuesday after she launched a harsh attack over a Tory incumbent's spending, while getting the central facts wrong.
Linda Goodyear issued a brief statement to apologize for her remarks Monday night aimed at Conception Bay East-Bell Island incumbent Dianne Whalen.
Liberal Leader Gerry Reid, left, listens as candidate Linda Goodyear speaks to supporters on Monday night.
"My campaign is about honest and fair representation for the people of Conception Bay East-Bell Island and I am working hard to gain their confidence and support," said Goodyear, who acknowledged that she based her claims on a faulty newspaper report.
The controversial remarks came during a speech to party supporters.
"I guess this is just a little something I'm going to throw into the crowd," Goodyear told the Monday rally, before alleging that Whalen — a cabinet minister in the Progressive Conservative government — had double-billed $21,997 in her constituency allowance.
Auditor General John Noseworthy, however, found that Whalen had double billings of just $291. Noseworthy's review of constituency allowances, released earlier this month, found that most MHAs had erroneous billings, many due to clerical errors.
Goodyear repeatedly ascribed the spending as double billings, though, and advised voters to steer away from Whalen.
"They are going to have a candidate that's more honest and has more integrity and [is] more honest to serve them," Goodyear said.
Noseworthy's audit found that Whalen had made $21,976 in donations to community and other groups during her tenure as a member of the house of assembly. Whalen was first elected in 2003, when she defeated former Liberal cabinet minister Jim Walsh.
Goodyear based her information on a report in the St. John's weekly newspaper the Independent, which reported that Whalen had double-billed her constituency allowance by $21,976.
Liberal's remarks backfired, says Whalen
Contacted by CBC News on Tuesday, Whalen said she was "very disappointed in Linda Goodyear," and said she deserved an apology.
Whalen said Goodyear's objective — of questioning Whalen's integrity — seems to have backfired.
"You don't get anywhere with these kinds of tactics, smearing people's integrity," she said.
"I'm not going to stoop to that kind of tactic, or that low politicking. I intend to go out and campaign on my record for the past four years and ask my constituents for their support again."The issue of donations has sparked debate during the campaign for the Oct. 9 election.
Derek Green, a judge who wrote a scathing review of financial practices at the legislature, has called for the abolition of using constituency allowances for donations to community, charitable and other organizations, deeming it an inappropriate use of tax dollars.
However, some politicians — including Topsail MHA Elizabeth Marshall, a former auditor general — have said donations to such groups were legitimate under the rules of the time.
The issue of donations cuts across party lines, as well.
Noseworthy's audit found that Liberal Leader Gerry Reid, who accompanied Goodyear on the campaign stop on Bell Island, had made $22,778 in donations to groups.
Noseworthy also found that Reid had double billings on his constituency allowance totalling $1,531.
|Last Update:October 9, 10:58:12 PM NDT|
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