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Commons Speaker sends MP suspension question to committee

House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer speaks in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa December 15, 2011.


Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer has handed a House committee the tricky question of whether two Tory MPs should be suspended over doubtful campaign spending.

Scheer says it's up to the committee on procedure and House affairs to decide if James Bezan and Shelly Glover should lose their MP privileges until their fight with Elections Canada is settled.

Scheer had earlier declined to suspend them because they had gone to court to settle their disagreement with the elections watchdog.

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But he reconsidered the matter after Liberal complaints and decided to let the committee decide the fate of the two Manitoba MPs.

The chief electoral officer wrote to Scheer last month requesting that voting and other MP privileges of Bezan and Glover be suspended for their failure to correct campaign expense records from the 2011 election.

The Speaker says it's an unprecedented situation and the law is silent about whether an appeal to the court has the effect of staving off the suspension.

"Some have argued that it is just and prudent to await the conclusion of legal proceedings, while others have maintained the two members ought, even now, not to be sitting in the House," he said. "I believe that the House must have an opportunity to consider these complex issues.

"To bring clarity to the situation at hand and to give the House a voice on the matter and to seek its guidance, the chair has concluded that immediate consideration of the matter by the House is warranted."

He then referred the case to the committee.

Bezan and Glover says they are fighting over interpretation of spending rules.

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"This issue is effectively a question of accounting interpretation," Bezan told the House when the issue first arose.

Glover similarly told the Commons hers was "simply a disagreement between my campaign and Elections Canada as to interpretations applicable to certain expenses."

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