Liberal minister accused of using government resources to bolster father’s school board campaign

Liberal minister Kent Hehr is pictured here at an Oct. 13 campaign event for his father's run at a Calgary LRT station. Conservative MPs say Hehr's use of parliamentary resources to support his father's election violate several federal rules. Twitter/@RichardHehr

A Calgary MP accused of misappropriating parliamentary resources has been flagged to authorities.

Kent Hehr, a rookie Liberal MP and cabinet minister, campaigned with his father, who ran a successful bid for the school board in last month’s Calgary election.

On Oct. 13, in a push to get voters to the polls, Hehr’s father tweeted a photo of himself and his son in front of a table covered in a red cloth bearing the House of Commons coat of arms and the MP’s name, status and website.

The table top is peppered with what appear to be campaign brochures and stickers, as well as paper cups ready to be filled from a box of Tim Hortons. Late last week, the Calgary Herald reported the literature was a mix of both men’s.

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A campaign sign for his father is pasted to a wall behind the table.

It may just be a tablecloth, but Conservative MPs allege it represents a clear violation of several rules governing the actions of MPs.

Conservative ethics critic Peter Kent wrote to the federal ethics commissioner suggesting Hehr’s decision to use his name and position and mix his political literature with that of his father’s, contravenes a section of the ethics code prohibiting MPs from promoting the private interests of a family member while performing parliamentary duties and functions.

READ MORE: ‘No regrets’ about choice to pursue political career after another tense week, says Bill Morneau

In that letter, Kent asked her to investigate whether there were any other instances in which his Liberal colleague used his position as a federal politician to support and promote his father’s campaign.

“We have photographic evidence that the minister of sports and disabilities improperly used parliamentary resources campaigning for his dad in a recent Calgary election,” Kent said during question period Wednesday.

“Does the prime minister support what the minister did, or does the prime minister think the minister should follow the rules?”

Justin Trudeau dodged the direct question, saying he and his MPs are committed to transparency, accountability, and openness.

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WATCH: Conservative ethics critic Peter Kent asked the prime minister where he stands on allegations Hehr used parliamentary resources while campaigning with his dad

Click to play video: 'Conservatives accuse Liberal MP of violating House of Commons rules' Conservatives accuse Liberal MP of violating House of Commons rules
Conservatives accuse Liberal MP of violating House of Commons rules – Nov 1, 2017

Alberta MP Ron Liepert, meanwhile, has asked the Speaker of the House of Commons to launch an investigation into whether the minister’s involvement with his father’s campaign violates the Board of Internal Economy bylaws, specifically those concerning activities related to an MP’s family and to an election.

Liepert, too, is asking to know whether the Oct. 13 event was an isolated event. He’s also asked the Speaker to investigate whether Hehr, who sits in cabinet as the minister for sport and persons with disability, spent any public money in connection with his father’s campaign.

“Was this the only time MP Hehr used his position as a member of Parliament to advance his father’s private interests, and how much of taxpayer’s money was used by MP Hehr to support his father’s campaign?” Leipert wrote in his letter.

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WATCH: Minster Kent Hehr sits down to talk about the impact his sudden disability had on his personal life and his political views

Click to play video: 'Food for Thought: A conversation with Cabinet Minister Kent Hehr' Food for Thought: A conversation with Cabinet Minister Kent Hehr
Food for Thought: A conversation with Cabinet Minister Kent Hehr – Oct 15, 2017

In a statement to Global News, Hehr acknowledged he may have erred in combining his father’s literature with his own, and apologized for the “oversight.”

“But I make no apologies for supporting my father during his campaign,” he continued.

A spokesperson for Hehr likened the Oct. 13 event to “over 30 pop-up coffees” the minister and MP has hosted around Calgary since he was elected to the House of Commons in the 2015 election.

COMMENTARY: Liberals need to come clean on Bill Morneau conflicts

If Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson finds reason to investigate Hehr’s actions, Hehr will join the ranks of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau who were also the subjects of ethics investigations.

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The commissioner has been investigating Trudeau’s vacation to a private Bahamian island for almost one year.

Dawson has also been closely tied to the ongoing controversy surrounding Morneau. She has so far fined him $200 for failing to disclose his ownership of the corporation holding his and his wife’s French villa and appears poised to launch an investigation into whether the minister was in a conflict of interest when he introduced pension-related legislation last year.

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