The Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary has apologized for publishing a poll on his MP website that showed the Progressive Conservative candidate in a dead heat with the Liberal contender in his Ontario riding.
Dean Del Mastro, however, is not apologizing for commissioning the 1,000 person poll after he felt that a survey by the local Peterborough newspaper underplayed the popularity of the Tory candidate.
"There was certainly no intent on my part to have an impact on the provincial election," he said, noting he realizes that placing the survey on his website be interpreted as an inappropriate use of parliamentary resources.
"As parliamentarians it is our responsibility to ensure that we follow the letter and spirit of the rules, and this is something I take very, very seriously in my job," he told the Commons.
Mr. Del Mastro is an effective and very partisan parliamentarian. It's no surprise his polling efforts attracted controversy; Stephen Harper's Tories were warned a month ago by the Prime Minister's chief of staff, Nigel Wright, to keep their noses clean and avoid getting involved in the various provincial elections now under way.
The Peterborough MP couldn't seem to resist, however. Earlier on in the Ontario campaign he reacted strongly to a plan by Dalton McGuinty's Liberals to reward businesses who hire immigrants.
But he is not one to back down. His carefully-worded apology in the Commons Tuesday did not say he was sorry for encouraging people to vote or for emphasizing that their choice matters.