Penashue says he won't quit, promises to explain spending
Tory minister says he'll speak to constituents next Tuesday in Labrador
By Laura Payton, CBC News
Posted: Nov 6, 2012 3:59 PM ET
Last Updated: Nov 6, 2012 5:00 PM ET
Federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue says he won't quit his cabinet role and promises that he'll explain his 2011 campaign spending and donations next week in Labrador.
The MP for Labrador has faced weeks of questions in the House of Commons since CBC News reported a local airline wrote off about $17,000 charged to his campaign. Had Penashue's campaign paid the bill, he would have gone over the legal spending limit by more than 20 per cent.
A subsequent story on the possibility of a corporate donation also triggered questions by opposition MPs, none of which Penashue has answered.
He finally spoke Tuesday, rising on an unrelated issue in question period and then speaking to reporters afterward.
"I'm under pressure. There's lots going on and I want to speak with my constituents and explain what happened during the election, and I think once they hear the explanation they will be in a better position to understand how things unfolded," Penashue said outside the House of Commons.
"I will be speaking with my constituents on Tuesday morning.… I think it's very important that I do that."
Asked whether that meant he was stepping down, Penashue said, "I'm not quitting, I'm not quitting."
"It's very important to me that my constituents understand the allegations and the comments being made."
CBC News first reported on Oct. 17 that the airline Penashue used in the campaign, Provincial Air, wrote off the bulk of what the campaign owed after Penashue's official agent, Reginald Bowers, said it couldn't afford to pay the full $24,711 cost.
CBC News also reported last week that a deposit slip found in Penashue's election file shows the campaign recorded a single entry for a donation by Pennecon Ltd., a construction company based in St. John's. The campaign issued receipts for six board members from the company.
Corporate donations are illegal in Canada. It's also illegal to make a donation through another person.
Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre has been taking most of the questions for the past three weeks about Penashue's spending and about the deposit slip.
'I'm a bit nervous'
New Democrat MPs changed tactics Tuesday, however, asking Penashue instead to answer a question on his intergovernmental affairs file.
"I guess eight senior policy advisers and 16 ministerial staff are just not enough to help the minister get up and answer questions in QP," Robert Chisholm said.
"I wonder if the minister could give us a report on some of the positive outcomes in the last few interprovincial meetings that he has attended."
Penashue paused and laughed before starting his response.
"I'm a bit nervous now, Mr. Speaker," he said.
"I'd like to say that this job has given me a great opportunity to spend time with the premiers and intergovernmental affairs ministers right across the country. And I've learned a lot, and I've learned a lot about our country. And I'm very proud of what we've accomplished as a country," he said, clearing his throat before continuing.
"And I've had a wonderful meeting, for example, with Premier [Kathy] Dunderdale, premier of New Brunswick, premier of Nova Scotia, I've been to Alberta."
Penashue has avoided reporters as well as questions in the House of Commons, turning down interview requests and using back entrances until Tuesday when he went out the front door of the House and met the reporters who wait there every day.
The NDP tried to get Penashue to take two more questions, but Kerry-Lynne Findlay, parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, took one question and Poilievre took the other.
Poilievre also answered the two questions posed to Penashue by Liberal MPs.
- In His Own Words: Bob Rae on his decision to leave the House by Kady O'Malley Jun. 19, 2013 12:04 PM Read his statement here.
Top News Headlines
- 30,000 Canadians are homeless every night
- A new national report into homelessness in this country tells a grim story — at least 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness in any given year and least 30,000 Canadians are homeless on any given night. more »
- Obesity called a disease by U.S. doctors group
- In order to fight what it described as an "obesity epidemic," the American Medical Association voted to recognize obesity as a disease and recommended a number of measures to fight it. more »
- Neil Macdonald: Washington's obsession with leakers
- Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are just the most prominent targets in an all-out legal and propaganda campaign that America's security apparatus is mounting against leakers everywhere, Neil Macdonald writes. more »
- How open is Ottawa's new 'open data' website?
- Treasury Board President Tony Clement is touting the federal government's revamped data portal as a "new natural resource." But that online window for previously published data arrives at the same time the government faces controversy over just how open it really is. more »
Latest Politics News Headlines
- Bob Rae stepping down as an MP
- Bob Rae, who has represented the Toronto Centre riding for the Liberals since 2008, is stepping down as a Member of Parliament to devote more time to his work as a negotiator for First Nations in Northern Ontario. more »
- MPs take stock as they wrap up spring sitting
- The NDP and Liberals are holding their final caucus meetings today before the summer break and Conservative House leader Peter Van Loan is holding a news conference to highlight what got accomplished in the last few months. more »
- Wednesdays with @Kady: House off for summer, Rae gone for good
- A flurry of sudden deal-making has sprung MPs from a grumpy House of Commons a few days early. Kady O'Malley's final "people's caucus" of the spring sitting follows the three parties' final news conferences before summer break. more »
- Wearing a mask at a riot becomes a crime today
- The bill that bans the wearing of masks or disguises during a riot or unlawful assembly is scheduled to become law today when it gets royal assent. more »
- Senator Tkachuk defends secretive committee's work Jun. 15, 2013 8:03 AM This week on The House, we ask Senator David Tkachuk about Mac Harb taking the Senate to court and Pamela Wallin's explanation for her expenses problems. Plus, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Shawn Atleo has strong words for the Harper government's approach to First Nations issues. The Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt is here to respond.
- 2 men jailed in Dominican wedding fight back in Canada
- Bob Rae stepping down as an MP
- Half of First Nations children live in poverty
- All-party deal on bills, MP oversight lets House out early
- Are e-cigarettes safe to puff?
- Huge ancient city at Angkor Wat revealed by lasers
- Tim Hortons being circled by Wall Street hedge funds
- B.C. teacher duct-taped students' mouths
- Most groups don't want return of Trudeau speaking fees