Mayes concerned about perception over scandals

Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes admits the federal government has an image problem.

The federal Conservatives have been bashed by opposition parties over the so-called in-and-out scandal, and the speaker of the House has ruled parliamentary privilege may have been broken in two cases.

“I think we have a good image handling the government and policies but we do have challenges with the perception that there are individuals not as ethical or as perfect as possible,” said Mayes.

“It doesn’t matter how hard government works or conducts themselves, it’s perception.”

Mayes isn’t sure if the current situation will lead to a non-confidence vote and an election.

“I would hope there would be more substance for the opposition to bring down the government,” he said.

“The opposition is throwing mud and seeing if it will stick. Canadians are worried about jobs, the economy and health care. That’s what we should be dealing with in Parliament.”

On Wednesday, Speaker Peter Milliken  ruled that International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda may have misled MPs.

Oda had told the foreign affairs committee she didn’t know who inserted the word “not” to an internal memo in which staff recommended funding for an aid organization. She later admitted that “not” was added under her direction.

“I’m a little disappointed,” Mayes said of Oda.

“The minister is not a rock star but she’s done a great job with that file. I’m very supportive of her.”

Mayes would not speculate on whether Oda should resign.

“I will leave that decision up to the prime minister. We are all human and make mistakes,” he said.

In the other case, Milliken ruled that there may have been a breach of privilege because the government did not make financial information regarding crime legislation available to a committee.

“We aren’t trying to hide anything. Cabinet must have the ability to discuss priorities of the government behind closed doors,” said Mayes, adding that following the customary process, the requested details would eventually be released.

The government is also squaring off against Elections Canada.

The agency alleges individuals in the Conservatives broke the rules  by moving more than $500,000 through local riding associations to support the national election campaign. Among the four people charged are two senators.

“The Liberals lost the last election because they stole taxpayers’ money (Adscam). The in-and-out issue is Conservative money being spent on Conservative ads,” said Mayes.

“It’s been done previously by the Liberals and the NDP. Under the policies at the time, it was legal and then Elections Canada changed the rules.”