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B.C. MP wants back into Liberal Party
Photo   B.C. MP Blair Wilson


Related Stories
 •  Umbrella donation puts B.C. MP in violation of federal election rules
 •  Liberals probe MP's campaign expenses
 •  MP out of Liberal caucus over improper spending allegations
 •  B.C. Liberal MP resigns from caucus over spending allegations

Globe and Mail Update

B.C. MP Blair Wilson says he wants the Liberal Party to reinstate his membership following what he describes as his exoneration by Elections Canada into whether he violated federal election rules on campaign spending.

Mr. Wilson, who currently sits as an independent, said during a phone interview on Saturday that he was “happy and relieved” by Election Canada's findings.

“I'm confident that since I've been cleared ... the National Liberal Caucus, the leader of the Liberal Party, and all good Liberals will support me in my cause to join the [caucus], and that they will also support me as the Liberal Party's next candidate,” he said.

The first formal opportunity Mr. Wilson will have to put his case to the Liberal Party leadership is during the party's national caucus, which is scheduled for Aug. 19.

“I've maintained my position as a loyal Liberal. I'm a Liberal at heart and I've been actively supporting the Liberal Party's position in the House of Commons, and in the riding,” he said.

“I leave it in [Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion's] hands as to how he wants to handle it. It's his decision.”

Mr. Wilson would not comment on what his plans might be if the Liberal Party refuses to reinstate him.

On Friday, Elections Canada announced that Mr. Wilson had acknowledged three violations of the Canada Elections Act when he ran for the riding of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country in the 2006 federal election.

The West Vancouver MP admitted that a donation of 144 printed umbrellas, worth $711, and expenses of $9,000 he spent on brochures, business cards and Christmas cards, were not declared.

Elections Canada also added that Mr. Wilson had failed to appoint an official agent and auditor before accepting a contribution or incurring an electoral campaign expense.

In his report, Commissioner of Elections William Corbett said other allegations were unfounded or insufficiently substantiated. A notice of compliance issued by Mr. Corbett means Mr. Wilson won't be prosecuted, accepts responsibility, and, by doing so, agrees to abide by the rules in future.

Mr. Wilson said he had himself initially approached Elections Canada to launch a review of his campaign expenses, contrary to reports that it had stemmed from an anonymous complaint.

He added that there was a list of allegations and the Elections Canada findings clear him of most of them.

“I definitely agree [to accept the three charges]. Honest mistakes were made; it was a long campaign and campaigns are complex,” said Mr. Wilson.

“I think the important thing in the end is that Elections Canada has cleared me, and, as well, I think it is important how you deal with those issues, and I dealt with them responsibly with Elections Canada and I signed off on an agreement with them. They agreed that I have complied and that my total expenses were under the maximum allowable cap.”

Media reports in October quoted Liberal insiders who worked for Mr. Wilson as saying he failed to report all his spending and made election purchases with cash, leaving no paper trail.

In October, Mr. Wilson stepped down from his position as revenue critic for the Liberal Party over financial allegations by his father-in-law Bill Lougheed.

Mr. Lougheed recently dropped a lawsuit against Mr. Wilson and his stepdaughter to recover as much as $1.5-million, saying his late wife, Norma, Ms. Wilson's mother, had lent the money to them to buy several homes over the years.

In December, the party sent Mr. Wilson a letter saying it was conducting an internal review of whether he failed to disclose information about past court proceedings and election spending, which meant he couldn't run as a candidate.

Party spokeswoman Elizabeth Whiting said at the time that Mr. Wilson failed to reveal the information on his nomination forms three times – in 2004, 2006 and during the current nomination process.

Mr. Wilson said he would not point fingers over what he said amounted to a “well-orchestrated smear campaign,” but added he “wouldn't wish it on anybody.”

Special to The Globe and Mail, with a report from The Canadian Press.

Related Stories
 •  Umbrella donation puts B.C. MP in violation of federal election rules
 •  Liberals probe MP's campaign expenses
 •  MP out of Liberal caucus over improper spending allegations
 •  B.C. Liberal MP resigns from caucus over spending allegations
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