Ethics inquiry launched into Ottawa MP's robocall

The federal ethics commissioner has launched an inquiry into a robocall from an Ottawa MP urging her constituents to vote for her husband in the city's recent municipal election.

Liberal MP Anita Vandenbeld asked constituents to vote for husband in municipal election

Anita Vandenbeld is the Liberal MP for Ottawa West-Nepean. The federal ethics commissioner has announced an inquiry into her robocall endorsing her husband in the Oct. 22 municipal election. (CBC News)

The federal ethics commissioner has launched an inquiry into a robocall from an Ottawa MP urging her constituents to vote for her husband in the city's recent municipal election.

The commissioner's office completed a preliminary review after some residents of Bay ward complained about receiving the automated phone calls from Ottawa West–Nepean MP Anita Vandenbeld in mid-October.

In the recorded message, Vandenbeld asked residents to vote for her husband, Don Dransfield, who lost the Oct. 22 election to Theresa Kavanagh. 

"As your federal MP, I'm looking for a municipal counterpart who's going to fight as hard for the people of the community as I do," Vandenbeld said in the message.

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion will review the case under the conflict of interest code for members of the House of Commons.

Code doesn't apply, Vandenbeld says

According to the code, an MP "shall not use his or her position as a member to influence a decision of another person so as to further the member's private interests or those of a member of his or her family."

But Vandenbeld, a member of the ethics committee, has a different reading of the code, arguing earlier this month the clause in question is intended to prevent MPs from advancing the interests of a family company or helping a family member secure a government contract.

Vandenbeld said she did not check with the ethics commissioner before sending out the robocall.

"In this case, we're talking about a public interest," she said at the time. "We're talking about somebody who is running for elected office, which is completely outside the code of conduct."

The commissioner's office said it will not make any additional comments on the inquiry or the preliminary review at this time.

With files from Joanne Chianello and Laura Osman