06/21/2012 05:26 EDT | Updated 08/21/2012 05:12 EDT

Penashue Defends Using Commons To Challenge Ex-MP


Federal cabinet minister Peter Penashue insists he was within his rights to use the floor of the Commons to call out a former Liberal MP for maintaining a website that still listed him as the member for Labrador.

Penashue, the federal minister of intergovernmental affairs, introduced a point of privilege on Tuesday about Todd Russell, the Liberal he defeated in an upset in last May's election.

Penashue claimed that Russell had breached parliamentary privilege by not taking down the site, in a parliamentary move that brought satirical jabs from the Liberals.

"Certainly we looked at other options, or my staff looked at other options, but this was the most convenient one [of] an approach to take," Penashue told CBC News, defending the decision to file a point of privilege. "It only took three minutes to make the point in the house."

The content on Russell's site was deleted by mid-Wednesday morning. Penashue said he asked Russell last week to do so, and that Russell refused.

Penashue said his staff learned of the issue through comments made onTwitter.

Russell mocked Penashue's speech as over-reaching, and questioned whether the minister did not have more important matters to bring before Parliament.

"I do have very important things to do, and I am always working, and I am always working with the other cabinet ministers," Penashue said in an interview. "People think that I should be up asking my own government questions in the House of Commons. It just doesn't make sense."

As well, Penashue rejected arguments that Russell's site had not been updated since last spring, as the federal election campaign kicked into gear.

"The other comment I keep hearing is that it is a dormant website. But there's no such thing as a dormant website if it's producing [or] putting out information. Even though it hasn't been active, the information was being put out, as such," he said.

Penashue's speech sparked some snickers from the Liberal bench, with Quebec MP Justin Trudeau tweeting, "In other news: My friend Todd Russell's old MP website has been dormant and inactive since the 2011 election… just like Peter Penashue."

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