The RCMP have been asked to probe allegations of improper taxpayer-funded electioneering by five federal Conservative MPs during the Canadian Wheat Board director elections.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) said Thursday it had asked the RCMP to investigate the letters sent by MPs directly to eligible farmers in their constituencies, “telling them how to vote and who to vote for.”
The Conservative MPs, whose party is well known for its support of deregulation of the CWB’s marketing powers for Prairie wheat and barley, appear to have used a mailing list “identical to the CWB voters’ list” to send the letters supporting known pro-deregulation candidates, the NFU said.
By law, the NFU said, that voters’ list is only supposed to be available to the candidates involved and the use of the private information within it is strictly regulated.
A request from the Canadian Press (CP) news agency to the RCMP for comment Friday was rejected “because an investigation is underway,” CP reported.
“It seems to us that the first step of an investigation would be to establish whether or not the CWB voters’ list was actually used by the Conservative MPs,” NFU president Stewart Wells said in a release Thursday.
Farmers have sent “over 50” of the letters to the NFU, Wells said, and “it appears that in every case the name and address on the MP’s letters is identical to the name and address in the farmer’s CWB permit book,” down to the farms’ corporate names and any typos in their names and addresses.
The information in CWB permit books is supposed to be protected by federal privacy laws, said Wells, a grain grower from the Swift Current, Sask. area.
“There have been several conflicting stories coming from the Conservative MPs themselves regarding the mailing list that they used to promote anti-CWB candidates during the election,” he said, and “it seems that the only way to get to the truth is to ask the RCMP to investigate.”
The MPs’ actions also violate the conflict of interest code for members of Parliament, the NFU alleged, and the MPs “have refused to register as third-party intervenors, an action that shows they think they are above the laws that apply to other Canadians.”