Former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel is defending his decision to expense nearly $70,000 worth of hockey tickets during his last five years in office.
Mandel, now the unelected health minister for the Alberta Tories, is running in the Edmonton-Whitemud byelection against Wildrose candidate Tim Grover.
Grover released documents Wednesday, detailing Mandel's expenses, including the tickets.
In the release, the Wildrose explained that the City of Edmonton has a skybox at Rexall Place, therefore the tickets "should not have been required for hosting purposes."
Grover called on Mandel to pay the money back.
“Even the prime minister of Canada pays for his own hockey tickets. Mr. Mandel owes taxpayers an explanation as to why he believes he’s entitled to free Gold season tickets at taxpayer’s expense,” Grover continued in the release.
Mandel campaign spokesman Steve Buick, however, told the Edmonton Journal that the tickets were not used by Mandel, but rather were given away to other people.
"In fact, most of them were given to charitable agencies to raise money for themselves raffling off the tickets," Buick said.
Buick told the Edmonton Sun it was a practice Mandel adopted from the previous mayor.
"It's really kind of sad because this was actually a really nice practice that existed under the previous mayor. Stephen carried it on because it seemed like a nice thing to do. The idea that it was a personal benefit for himself is just completely wrong. It's too bad people are distracted by things like this."
In an interview with Global News, Buick said the Wildrose is just trying to distract voters from issues like leadership and health care.