A flyer mailed to voters by Conservative MP Jason Kenney may be technically legal, but it leaves the impression of a politician trying to skirt election financing rules, says a political scientist.
The brochure, appearing this week at the homes of people living in the riding of Calgary Southeast, doesn't mention Calgary or the neighbourhoods in the incumbent's riding.
Instead, it shows a mock ballot with the names of four party leaders.
"The Conservative government is cracking down on car thieves," reads the flyer. "Who do you think is on the right track on crime? Check one."
The flyer was paid out of Kenney's MP expenses and sent out before the election was called, according to Kenney's assistant.
Optics not good: political scientist
Lori Williams, a political scientist at Calgary's Mount Royal College, said the flyer looks like campaign material. She said the optics are not good, especially for a party that's already involved in a controversy about its 2006 election expenses.
"Typically, they are more informational in character," she said of the leaflet.
"The timing of it, the fact that a ballot box appears in the mail out. I mean, it is clearly intended to be something that will motivate people to get out and vote in the coming election."
'This is within the rules put forth by the House of Commons and that is that.' —Jamie Ellerton
Under the Elections Act, campaign material is supposed to be an election expense for the party, not charged to the taxpayer.
Kenney is in Ottawa and wasn't available for an interview. But his executive assistant Jamie Ellerton told CBC News the flyer was sent to the post office on Aug. 27, well before the Oct. 14 election was called.
"This is not campaign material," he said.
"I don't think we are worried about the optics of this. We are going forward and communicating with the constituents of Calgary Southeast. This is within the rules put forth by the House of Commons and that is that."
Calgary Southeast Liberal candidate Brad Carroll said his Conservative rival was misusing his privileges as an MP.
"I can understand that perhaps it was mailed out just prior to an election call," said Carroll. "I'm uncomfortable with the fact the Conservative party knew when they were going to call an election and dumped these on the doorsteps just prior to it so it would show up during an election."