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Tories want Trudeau investigated after public servants helped at ‘campaign’ event, they say

Trudeau visits the Blood Tribe reserve
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poses for selfies as he wades through supporters at a gathering on the Blood Tribe reserve in Stand Off, Alta., Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press

The Conservatives’ ethics and accountability critic has asked for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to be investigated after public servants helped prepare him for a visit to an Alberta reserve in October.

Alberta MP Blaine Calkins has written to the Public Service Commission, the body in charge of ensuring a “non-partisan” public service, and asked it to investigate after staff with the Privy Council Office (PCO) helped prepare the prime minister for an event that featured Stan Sakamoto, the Liberal candidate in the Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner byelection that was happening at the time.

WATCH: Prime Minister visits Blood Tribe reserve (from Oct. 15, 2016)

Minister visits Blood Reserve
Minister visits Blood Reserve

Documents obtained by the Conservatives through access to information and sent to Global News show that PCO staff helped prepare Trudeau for a visit to the Blood Tribe Reserve on Oct. 14, 2016, which happened during the byelection campaign period.

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A spokesperson for the PCO told Global News that it is the office’s duty to prepare the prime minister in advance of all events and that Trudeau is being afforded the “same support as previous prime ministers.”

“Irrespective of his schedule or planned events, the Prime Minister must always be in a position to carry out official government duties,” Raymond Rivet told Global News in a statement. “The PM is always in contact with his office and is routinely provided with briefing materials during all travel, domestically and internationally, whether on personal or government business.”

A “meet-and-greet” that day on the reserve in Stand Off, Alta. had Sakamoto in attendance.

The Conservatives say this was a campaign event and, as such, public servants should not have prepared briefing material for the prime minister.

READ MORE: Prime Minister Trudeau visits largest reserve in Canada

The visit was “clearly a political activity, rather than official business of the Government of Canada,” so the PCO’s involvement was “highly inappropriate,” Calkins said in a statement.

However, during the visit, the prime minister also met with the chief and council to discuss First Nations issues.

The background material prepared by PCO that appears in the ATIP documents summarizes issues facing the First Nation and discusses an ongoing legal dispute with the federal government about the size of the reserve’s territory.

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READ MORE: Familiar face returns as chief on the Blood reserve

The visit to the Blood Tribe Reserve does not appear in Trudeau’s public calendar, on the official pm.gc.ca website. There is no entry for Oct. 14, 2016.

The Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner byelection took place Oct. 24, 2016. It was won by the Conservative candidate, Glen Motz, who finished far ahead of Sakamoto.

  • With files from Quinn Campbell, Global News