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Rookie NDP MP accused of using falsified nomination paper

Newly elected NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau.

Already infamous as the NDP candidate who vacationed in Las Vegas during the election campaign, newly elected Quebec MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau is now accused of having bogus names on her nomination paper.

Four people whose names are on Ms. Brosseau's endorsement list have told The Globe that they don't remember signing the document.

Other names on the list aren't riding residents or say that they weren't told who the candidate was, another breach of electoral rules.

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The allegations, first made by the defeated Liberal and Conservative candidates, raise further questions about Ms. Brosseau, one of many political neophytes who rode the NDP wave that swept through Quebec.

She stood out among the rookie candidates before election day because of her lack of qualifications. She is a 27-year-old assistant pub manager at Carleton University in Ottawa, three hours from her riding of Berthier-Maskinongé, midway between Montreal and Quebec City.

She speaks little French despite her riding's overwhelming francophone population, and hasn't faced the media since returning from Vegas. Still, she won by a 5,816-vote margin.

Political observers predicted NDP Leader Jack Layton would have a hard time with so many new and inexperienced party members, and Ms. Brousseau proved to be the first one to get in trouble.

The party insists her nomination was properly conducted. "All signatures were collected legitimately, the documents were tabled with Elections Canada and they were approved by the Returning Officer," national spokeswoman Kathleen Monk said in an e-mail.

The four residents who said their signatures were falsified all live on Rue Riopel, a broad residential street in the west end of Trois-Rivières.

"This morning I went to the [Elections Canada]office. I saw the document and I saw my name and my wife's name too," said René Young, who says he and his wife, Lise Leblanc, shouldn't be on the nomination paper.

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"My wife never signed that. It's not her signature. Her name is even misspelled."

Mr. Young said he has only given his signature once since April 2, when a man came to his door and asked him to sign a petition for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Alexandra Baudry, a spokeswoman for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, said no one from her organization had been asking for signatures in that neighbourhood.

Two other neighbours of Mr. Young also said they had the same experience.

Pierre Hamelin's name appears just above Mr. Young's on the nomination paper.

"I don't remember seeing that document. I don't believe that is my signature," Mr. Hamelin said when a Globe reporter showed him a copy of the list.

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Another person on the list, Robert Bourque, said he had never been asked to sign any document. "I am a Bloc [Québécois]supporter," he said. "I'm shocked."

In addition, at least five other people on the list are not residents of the riding, according to Michel Périgny, the official agent of defeated Liberal candidate Francine Gaudet.

He said those five people live on Des Forges Boulevard, in a part of town that locals would know as not being part of the Berthier-Maskinongé riding.

In another case, 83-year-old Georgette Lacasse said she had signed the document but wasn't told who the candidate was.

Ms. Brosseau could not be contacted on Wednesday. NDP spokesman Marc-André Viau said she is being briefed and would meet local reporters in her riding "soon."

Even some people who remember signing Ms. Brosseau's nomination papers weren't pleased by her absence during the campaign.

Ghislaine Tousignant, another Riopel St. resident, said she signed the document but "we never saw her throughout the campaign so I didn't vote for her."

The defeated Conservative candidate, Marie-Claude Godue, wants Elections Canada to investigate and is considering asking for another vote.

Election Canada media relations officer Diane Benson said that it would be up to the courts to determine whether the allegations warrant that a by-election be held in the riding.

"If the election is contested, then a Quebec Superior Court judge would hear the case," Ms. Benson said.

One problem for the Liberals and Conservatives is that the nomination papers only require 100 names and Ms. Brosseau's carries 128 signatures.

Mr. Périgny said his party feels it would have to disqualify at least 29 names from the list. "We'll have to see if we can find a large enough number that it would sway a judge. The evidence has to be substantial."

With a report from Ingrid Peritz in Montreal

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About the Authors
National reporter

Tu Thanh Ha is based in Toronto and writes frequently about judicial, political and security issues. He spent 12 years as a correspondent for the Globe and Mail in Montreal, reporting on Quebec politics, organized crime, terror suspects, space flights and native issues. More

Quebec City political correspondent

Rhéal Séguin is a journalist and political scientist. Born and educated in southern Ontario, he completed his undergraduate degree in political science at York University and a master's degree in political science at the Université du Québec à Montréal.Rhéal has practised journalism since 1978, first with Radio-Canada in radio and television and then with CBC Radio. More

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