North

N.W.T. MLA cleared of election wrongdoing

The chief electoral officer of the Northwest Territories has cleared Yellowknife Centre MLA Robert Hawkins of charges he overspent in his election campaign.

The chief electoral officer of the Northwest Territories has cleared Yellowknife Centre MLA Robert Hawkins of charges he overspent in his election campaign.

The investigation was looking into whether Hawkins had taken part in "alleged illegal or corrupt practices" in the 2003 election race.

The investigation began after a losing candidate complained Hawkins hadn't claimed the use of a friend's Winnebago recreational vehicle during the campaign. Hawkins had spent the maximum allowed for an N.W.T. election in securing his seat, which he won by just 40 votes.

But now the chief electoral officer, Glen McLean, says he has determined no infraction of the Elections Act took place. McLean says the vehicle was "a volunteer service," not a reportable contribution of goods or services.

"As an individual, he had all the right in the world to participate in the election process, and he chose to say, 'Use my Winnebago, put a big sign on it. And we'll place it strategically, thoughout the community, and drive it around the streets'.

"And that's quite all right."

McLean also said the use of the vehicle, which sported Hawkins' campaign posters during the race, does not fall under the section of the Elections Act dealing with outdoor advertising facilities.

About 20 people were interviewed in the case, which cost $7,400 to conduct.

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