Tories defend MP named in offshore tax probe

The Conservative government is rejecting opposition demands for the removal of a Tory MP named in an offshore tax investigation.

The Conservative government is rejecting opposition demands for the removal of a Tory MP whose name appears in an offshore tax probe.

During question period Friday, NDP finance critic Thomas Mulcair said MP Andrew Saxton "simply cannot continue in his role" as parliamentary secretary to the president of the treasury board during the investigation and "has to step aside."

Government House leader John Baird dismissed Mulcair's demand, calling it "a drive-by smear" and adding: "I regret that the member would come to this place and ask that kind of question."

Saxton, during his previous career as a banker, approved a transfer of funds on behalf of a Canadian taxpayer to an account in Switzerland that the taxpayer set up to help evade taxes, CBC News and the Globe and Mail learned.

The investigation uncovered court documents that show Saxton, now the Conservative MP from North Vancouver, instructing the transfer of $199,975 into a Swiss bank account in 1994 on behalf of a Canadian client of RBC Dominion Securities in Victoria.

Saxton was the head of private banking for the Vancouver branch of Credit Suisse Canada from 1992 until 1994, when he left for a series of HSBC banking posts across Asia. He has been the Treasury Board parliamentary secretary since he was elected to Parliament in 2008.

Later in question period, Bloc Québécois MP Serge Cardin demanded that Prime Minister Stephen Harper fire Saxton, in view of the "very serious" information uncovered in the joint investigation by CBC News and the Globe and Mail.

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Pierre Poilievre, parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, said Saxton "has done his work with integrity; he has spoken out about tax evasion."