Volpe won't let allegations stop his leadership bid

Liberal leadership candidate Joe Volpe said Monday he will remain in the race despite accusations that his camp improperly signed up party members in Quebec.

Liberal leadership candidate Joe Volpe said Monday he will remain in the race despite accusations thathis camp improperly signed up party members in Quebec.

Volpe announced his intentions to stay just as rival candidate Michael Ignatieff was hit with similar allegations of membership irregularities.

"I'm staying in the race to win the leadership race and toform the next government," Volpe said at a press conference Monday.

Volpe didn't address the allegations specifically. Instead, he said that because ofthe "hurly burly" process of recruitment and nominations, theparty sets up an arbitration process to "dealwith errors and anomalies along the way."

On Saturday, an article in the Toronto Star alleged thatthe Toronto MP's camp signed up at least nine party members in Montreal without their knowledge or without them paying the $10 signup fee. The paper alleged that two of the new party members were deceased.

Party rules require that all members pay their own membership fee and personally sign a membership form.

Volpe told CBC News that he's asked his team to investigate the allegations"and to make sure how the campaign conducted the recruitment process."

Delegate selection

Volpe added that he didn't think it was coincidental that the allegations came just days before every riding in Canada will choose their delegates ahead of the leadership convention in Montreal, beginning on Nov. 28.

At thenews conference, Volpe suggested that his ethnicity has made him an outsider in the race, offering that the allegations may have come from those who believe him "not Canadian enough" for the job.

Alfonso Gagliano, the former Liberal embroiled in the sponsorship scandal, came to Volpe's defence Monday while promoting his new autobiography The Corridors of Power.

"Here again, another good old Italian-Canadian who is trying to get to the top of the Liberal party, and we want to bring him down, " Gagliano said.

A few daysbefore thearticle in the Star,officials in the Liberal party said they were investigating an allegation that Volpe's leadership campaign had paid for the memberships of people it recruited in Montreal's Papineau riding.

"No campaign, mine especially, is interested in signing anybody who's not going to show up. It defies logic," Volpe said.

Volpe —who served as a cabinet minister in Paul Martin's government — stunned political observers by signing up more than 4,000 new members in Quebec.

It gave himmore support in the province than any of the other eightleadership hopefuls — including the sole candidate from Quebec,Stéphane Dion.

Volpe's team drewfire earlier in the year when it was revealed that five children had donated thousands of dollars to his campaign. He returned $27,000 in campaign donations.

Ignatieff faces complaint

In another development, acomplaint has been filed with the Liberal party about 60 members allegedly signed up improperly by Ignatieff's camp in two Toronto-area ridings, including one man in Ignatieff's constituency said to have died two years ago.

The complaint lists 48 members in Ignatieff's Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding who have allegedly admitted they did not sign a membership form or pay the membership fee, as required by party rules and electoral law.

It includes signed statements from three of the members whodeclare that "my membership fees were kindly paid for by the Michael Ignatieff leadership campaign."

Thecomplaint also lists 11 members in the riding of Brampton-Springdale who all gave the same home address, which the complainant alleges is actually an Indian restaurant. Brampton-Springdale is held by MP Ruby Dhalla, a top Ignatieff supporter.

The complaint was filed by George Kunz, a long-time Liberal from Burlington who said he's not affiliated with any of the leadership camps.

He toldthe Canadian Press thathe began "doing some digging" after hearing about irregularities from several Liberal friends.

"I'd like to see the party do things according to its own rules. I don't want to see one camp be unfair to another camp," Kunz said in an interview shortly after filing his complaint.

With files from the Canadian Press