POLITICS

Ex-Liberal MP Says Party Officials Still Ignoring Fraud Complaint From Last Year

08/26/2015 06:00 EDT | Updated 08/26/2015 06:59 EDT
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A former MP says his year-long silent treatment from Liberal officials is continuing even after warning the party that a candidate was buying party memberships to secure his own victory.

On Tuesday, the Ottawa Citizen reported veteran politician Paul Szabo alerted Liberal officials last summer about concerns that a nomination candidate was allegedly breaking campaign rules.

The former Mississauga-South MP told reporter Glen McGregor it’s "difficult" to say his party is complicit in wrongdoing, despite the evidence showing "100 per cent proof" that they are.

When asked by The Huffington Post Canada if Liberal officials have reached out in the 20 hours since the story was published, Szabo replied, "No."

Peel authorities launched a criminal investigation into the allegations in October. “No one from the party has communicated with me since the allegations were reported to police,” Szabo said in an email.

Justin Trudeau is a friend and capable leader for the party, he added, explaining the “crisis” in the party’s current management has been in place “long before” the Papineau MP became leader.

“The key players have become power brokers without a code of ethics,” he said.

Liberal spokesperson Olivier Duchesneau called the claim the party had ignored Szabo’s complaints “completely false.”

Duchesneau told The Huffington Post the matter was taken “very seriously” and that the former MP was “actively engaged.”

“The Liberal Party of Canada strongly rejects any suggestion stating that we didn’t look into this matter with due diligence,” he said.

A police investigation remains ongoing.

Controversy surrounding Liberal candidate Sven Spengemann bubbled over last week after he admitted to breaking election spending laws to win a nomination race to represent the federal party in Mississauga-Lakeshore, a new Toronto-area riding.

Formerly known as Mississauga-South, the riding was held by Szabo for 17 years before the community voted Conservative in the last election.

Because Spengemann signed a compliance agreement with the commissioner of elections pledging to abide by rules. It’s a document that allows him to continue on as a Liberal candidate during the campaign.

Similar circumstances landed Dean Del Mastro in trouble, except the former Conservative MP did not sign a compliance agreement to protect him as in Spengemann’s case.

Szabo served as the financial agent for environmental activist Julie Desjardins' Liberal nomination campaign.

According to an email obtained by The Huffington Post, Szabo tells Liberal Party President Anna Gainey how "extremely disappointed" he is that no one responded to any of the three complaints he sent about suspected membership fraud, the first dated June 9 last year.

"I consider that to be personally insulting, challenging my honesty and integrity as a [certified public accountant], and to be a matter of disrespect for a former Liberal MP for over 17 years," he wrote in a July 25, 2014 email.

Also copied on the message is the party's national director Jeremy Broadhurst and organizer Marie-Laurence Lapointe. Szabo said there was "no excuse" for the party to not acknowledge receipt of the complaint.

In a conversation with Spengemann’s campaign co-chair Lloyd Posno, Szabo explained he was told allegations of identity theft and forgery had been investigated and that no problems were found.

He said he was told the onus was on him to produce evidence of any wrongdoing. Last July, Szabo submitted a 43-page report to party officials, which went unacknowledged.

With files from Althia Raj

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