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Conservative MP apologizes for making a BlackBerry jam

Research In Motion’s BlackBerry smartphone handsets are pictured in this illustration picture taken in Lavigny, July 21, 2012. Samsung says it has not considered buying the Canadian tech company.

VALENTIN FLAURAUD/REUTERS

A public feud over an NDP MP's jammed BlackBerry is officially closed.

Speaking on behalf of the Speaker of the House of Commons, Assistant Deputy Speaker Barry Devolin told MPs Friday he accepts the public apology delivered Thursday evening by Ontario Conservative MP Bev Shipley.

NDP MP Don Davies had accused Mr. Shipley of inundating his personal email account with thousands of e-mails, which ultimately shut down the account the NDP MP uses regularly via his BlackBerry.

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Mr. Shipley later said he meant to forward the e-mails to the public account for Mr. Davies' office, not the MP's personal e-mail account.

Mr. Davies had called the move "a deliberate, malicious and frankly childish attack on me and my privileges as a Member of Parliament."

The NDP MP had claimed the flood of e-mails was a form of retaliation for a post Mr. Davies made on his own website. There, he urged readers to send e-mails to the offices of the seven Conservative MPs on the Commons international trade committee, asking them to support Mr. Davies' call for a committee study on the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.

The motion was on the committee's agenda Thursday afternoon. However the meeting was held behind closed doors and Mr. Davies' proposal did not succeed.

Responding to letters from the public has long been a big part of an MP's day-to-day duties, but letter writing campaigns have clearly taken on a new dynamic in the electronic age.

Standardized letters can easily be copied, pasted and emailed to MPs.

Mr. Davies said campaigns by critics of the Canada-China investment treaty have recently generated tens of thousands of e-mails to MPs.

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In responding to Mr. Davies' complaint, Mr. Shipley said Thursday that there was nothing malicious about his actions.

"That the e-mails were sent to his personal account was not intentional and certainly far removed from anything resembling a malicious intent. It was simply to make sure he, through his office, was aware of these Canadian messages," said Mr. Shipley. "Nonetheless, I want to extend my apologies to [Mr. Davies]. I am disappointed, quite honestly, though, that he chose to make a bit of a public spectacle out of an administrative error instead of just coming over and asking me for an explanation."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

A member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1999, Bill Curry worked for The Hill Times and the National Post prior to joining The Globe in Feb. 2005. Originally from North Bay, Ont., Bill reports on a wide range of topics on Parliament Hill, with a focus on finance. More

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