Tory MP bows to Elections Canada in fight over expenses

Conservative MP Shelly Glover has bowed to Elections Canada in a battle over her 2011 campaign expenses, days after filing a court challenge against the agency.

Shelly Glover makes changes required by agency, no longer risks being barred from House

Shelly Glover was one of three Conservative MPs who had been fighting Elections Canada in court over their 2011 election spending. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Conservative MP Shelly Glover has bowed to Elections Canada in a battle over her 2011 campaign expenses, days after filing a court challenge against the agency.

House Speaker Andrew Scheer announced Glover's decision in a ruling about whether MPs should vote to punish her and James Bezan, another Conservative MP who filed a court challenge against Elections Canada.

The election agency was trying to force Glover and Bezan to correct their spending files, using the threat of barring them from the House until they made the changes. The changes would put them over their spending limits, which is illegal under the Canada Elections Act.

Liberal MP Scott Andrews had raised a question of privilege with Scheer, arguing that he needed to act on that rule and let the House decide whether to bar the MPs until they settled their disputes with Elections Canada, either with the agency or in court.

Andrews said allowing the MPs to continue to work in the House breached the privilege of MPs who had complied with Elections Canada's rules.

Question sent to committee

CBC News has since revealed that Conservative MP Jeff Watson is locked in a similar fight with Elections Canada.

Scheer agreed Andrews had made his case on the face of it that his privilege was breached, and referred the question to the committee on procedure and House affairs, saying that he doesn't have any rules to guide him on the issue.

"To bring clarity to the situation at hand and to give the House a voice on the matter and to seek its guidance, the chair has concluded that immediate consideration of the matter by the House is warranted," Scheer said, referring to himself as the chair.

Scheer also agreed to table letters from Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand and the MPs.

Without those letters being provided to the House, it was up to journalists to come across court documents or search the individual election files of MPs to see whether they were in a dispute with Elections Canada, and make that public.

The Canada Elections Act allows for MPs to be barred from sitting and voting in the House until they comply with requests from the agency to correct their campaign returns.

However, the law also allows the MPs to go to court to fight the agency so that they don't have to make the changes.

Scheer said the lack of rules covering the situation is a "serious gap" and called the situation unprecedented.

Working 'in good faith'

Glover responded to questions from CBC News with a one-line statement.

"I continue to work in good faith with Elections Canada to resolve this issue as I have always done," she said.

Glover's hearing at the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench was set for June 20.

Scheer said Mayrand wrote him on June 17 to say Glover had provided a corrected return as required under the law.

Glover is seen as a strong performer as parliamentary secretary to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and as a contender for a full cabinet seat in a shuffle expected sometime this summer.

The hearing for Bezan, also at the Manitoba court, is set for Sept. 12. Watson's hearing in Ontario Superior Court is July 16.

MPs voted in favour of a motion by Conservative House Leader Tom Lukiwski to adjourn the debate on sending the motion to committee.

It's not yet clear when the House will rise for the summer, but it's expected to be this week.