04/09/2013 07:19 EDT | Updated 06/09/2013 05:12 EDT

Penashue Says Labrador Needs A Rep In Government


Conservative Peter Penashue says voters in Labrador would be best served with a member on the government side of the House of Commons.

Penashue, who resigned his seat last month amid an Elections Canada investigation into his 2011 campaign, says his record over the last two years is strong enough for voters to return him to Parliament in a May 13 byelection.

I'm very pleased with my work, and I think that Labradorians will now decide who they would like to have them continue their good work in Labrador," Penashue told CBC Radio's As It Happens.

"I think they will decide that it is much better to be on the government side than to be on the opposition."

The Conservative Party of Canada named Penashue as the party's candidate in the byelection as soon as he re

Elections Canada, which has not yet completed its investigation of Penashue's 2011 campaign, found that the campaign had received 28 donations that violated spending rules. The Conservative Party later transferred $44,350 to cover the campaign's debts.

In an interview, Penashue said he took responsibility for his campaign's mistakes by resigning his seat — and his cabinet portfolio of intergovernmental affairs — in March.

Still, Penashue said he never knew about any of the problems that triggered the Elections Canada investigation.

"There was a lot of things going on and I was out campaigning door to door, and my official agent was managing the finances and managing the campaign, and you know, I simply didn't know that there were mistakes," he said.

Penashue has continually placed the blame for the mistakes at the feet of Reg Bowers, the volunteer who ran his campaign. Since a CBC News investigation brought the story to light last year, Penashue has said that inexperience was the key reason why mistakes were made with donations.

Elections Canada files show that Penashue's campaign, among other things, used chartered flights to reach remote communities in Labrador, with Provincial Airlines providing $18,710.54 in an illegal in-kind contribution.

Penashue is competing against Liberal Yvonne Jones, a 17-year veteran of the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature, and New Democrat Harry Borlase for the Labrador seat.

Penashue said he "certainly will be" sticking within campaign spending limits in this campaign.

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