OTTAWA — A Liberal candidate has admitted he broke election spending laws during his fight to win a bitterly contested nomination battle in the Toronto-area riding of Mississauga-Lakeshore.
In a compliance agreement struck with the commissioner of elections, Sven Spengemann admits he personally paid for some campaign expenses, which legally should have been paid only by his financial agent.
As a result, Spengemann admits he wound up donating $4,255 to his own nomination campaign — almost twice the legal limit of $2,200.
Under the terms of the compliance agreement, published in the Canada Gazette, Spengemann has agreed to solicit legal contributions to cover his excess donation and to pay that money to the receiver general.
He also agrees to file with Elections Canada an updated nomination financial return, reflecting all his campaign expenses and contributions.
A compliance agreement is a commonly used method of dealing with infractions of election laws; it does not constitute a criminal conviction or create a criminal record.
Elections commissioner Yves Cote's office investigated Spengemann's nomination expenses after receiving a complaint from Paul Szabo, the former Liberal MP for the riding who had backed a rival candidate for the nomination.
Szabo said allowing Spengemann to sign a compliance agreement makes a mockery of Canada's election laws.
"By not declaring the expenses he gave himself an unfair advantage over other candidates and he only won by 19 votes," Szabo said.
He urged Spengemann to "do the honourable thing" and step aside as the candidate. He noted that other candidates have stepped aside for lesser offences, including inappropriate tweets posted years ago.
Szabo maintains Spengemann's campaign failed to report more expenses than have been admitted, including room rentals, bus rental, campaign literature, signs and posters.
He also alleges that Spengemann should have reported the cost of professional services provided by several campaign organizers, including those whom he alleges manipulated the riding's membership list.
And he contends Spengemann should have reported the cost of paying for party membership fees, contrary to party rules.
The Canadian Press