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Penashue pondering a return to politics

Peter Penashue
Peter Penashue

Former Labrador MP Peter Penashue will decide at the end of this month whether or not he will run again as a candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada in the upcoming federal election.

Penashue was an MP in Ottawa between 2011 and 2013 and spent much of that time as a cabinet minister. He would like to get back into politics, but only if he gets a sense that Labradorians want to see him run again.

“I’m just trying to get a sense of people here and see if there’s an interest,” said Penashue, who was the first Innu MP in Canada. “Obviously, if there’s an interest in having a strong representative on the government side, then I’m in.

“Put it this way: I’m interested, I’m very good at it. I was very successful while I was in Ottawa for two years; I delivered for Labrador. You can see my work and what I’ve accomplished.”

Penashue’s first and only term in office ended sooner than he expected. In March 2013, he resigned amid controversy over some of the donations his campaign received in 2011. It came to light that more than $45,000 of his campaign contributions were illegal or ineligible.

Penashue ran in the byelection but was defeated by current Liberal MP Yvonne Jones. Penashue finished second, just ahead of NDP candidate Harry Borlase.

Earlier this year, Penashue’s official agent during the 2011 campaign, Reg Bowers, was charged under three counts of the Elections Act.Elections Canada alleges Bowers failed to return campaign contributions within 30 days of becoming aware that they were ineligible.

The second charge says Bowers provided the chief electoral officer with a document that he knew or ought to have known contained a false or misleading statement.

Thirdly, Bowers is charged with failing to accurately report travel expenses from the 2011 Labrador election campaign.

Bowers’ case is still before the courts. But Penashue insists that it won’t be a factor when he decides whether or not to run.

“It’s an ongoing case for Reg and we’ll see how it all unfolds,” said Penashue.

“We’ve dealt with it for the last two years. Politically, I took responsibility for it. I resigned, as you know, and when I resigned I ran in the byelection, which I lost. Elections Canada chose to deal with this through the courts, and that’s where it’s at with my official agent.”

Throughout his interview with The Labradorian, Penashue spoke as though it’s a given the Conservatives will, once again, form the next government. And much like his campaign during the 2013 byelection, he emphasized the importance of Labradorians having a representative on “the government side” of the House of Commons.

“People have to make up their minds. And the decision they have to make is whether they want their MP to be on the government side and be productive, or be on the opposition … and be unproductive. That’s the choice people have to make,” Penashue said.

He was also highly critical of Yvonne Jones’ record during her first two years in Ottawa.

“What have we accomplished the past two years?” he asked.

“We’ve got zero new support from the federal government. Everything that’s ongoing now is the work that I’ve accomplished. So I think it was a total loss for Labrador, and that concerns me.”

Penashue defended Stephen Harper’s record as prime minister, particularly when the issue of Harper’s strained relationship with aboriginal Canadians was mentioned.

As a member of a First Nations group, Penashue believes Harper has done a lot for aboriginals across Canada and says it’s just that no one seems to be talking about it publicly.

“I think he’s a very good prime minister, he’s been a very successful prime minister,” Penashue stated. “As a matter of fact, our prime minister has resolved … probably the most outstanding land claims … then any prime minister in the history of Canada.

“I think he will continue to be a good prime minister, because he’s very focused on the economy. As you know, without jobs, we have nothing.”

derek.montague@thelabradorian.ca

 

Penashue was an MP in Ottawa between 2011 and 2013 and spent much of that time as a cabinet minister. He would like to get back into politics, but only if he gets a sense that Labradorians want to see him run again.

“I’m just trying to get a sense of people here and see if there’s an interest,” said Penashue, who was the first Innu MP in Canada. “Obviously, if there’s an interest in having a strong representative on the government side, then I’m in.

“Put it this way: I’m interested, I’m very good at it. I was very successful while I was in Ottawa for two years; I delivered for Labrador. You can see my work and what I’ve accomplished.”

Penashue’s first and only term in office ended sooner than he expected. In March 2013, he resigned amid controversy over some of the donations his campaign received in 2011. It came to light that more than $45,000 of his campaign contributions were illegal or ineligible.

Penashue ran in the byelection but was defeated by current Liberal MP Yvonne Jones. Penashue finished second, just ahead of NDP candidate Harry Borlase.

Earlier this year, Penashue’s official agent during the 2011 campaign, Reg Bowers, was charged under three counts of the Elections Act.Elections Canada alleges Bowers failed to return campaign contributions within 30 days of becoming aware that they were ineligible.

The second charge says Bowers provided the chief electoral officer with a document that he knew or ought to have known contained a false or misleading statement.

Thirdly, Bowers is charged with failing to accurately report travel expenses from the 2011 Labrador election campaign.

Bowers’ case is still before the courts. But Penashue insists that it won’t be a factor when he decides whether or not to run.

“It’s an ongoing case for Reg and we’ll see how it all unfolds,” said Penashue.

“We’ve dealt with it for the last two years. Politically, I took responsibility for it. I resigned, as you know, and when I resigned I ran in the byelection, which I lost. Elections Canada chose to deal with this through the courts, and that’s where it’s at with my official agent.”

Throughout his interview with The Labradorian, Penashue spoke as though it’s a given the Conservatives will, once again, form the next government. And much like his campaign during the 2013 byelection, he emphasized the importance of Labradorians having a representative on “the government side” of the House of Commons.

“People have to make up their minds. And the decision they have to make is whether they want their MP to be on the government side and be productive, or be on the opposition … and be unproductive. That’s the choice people have to make,” Penashue said.

He was also highly critical of Yvonne Jones’ record during her first two years in Ottawa.

“What have we accomplished the past two years?” he asked.

“We’ve got zero new support from the federal government. Everything that’s ongoing now is the work that I’ve accomplished. So I think it was a total loss for Labrador, and that concerns me.”

Penashue defended Stephen Harper’s record as prime minister, particularly when the issue of Harper’s strained relationship with aboriginal Canadians was mentioned.

As a member of a First Nations group, Penashue believes Harper has done a lot for aboriginals across Canada and says it’s just that no one seems to be talking about it publicly.

“I think he’s a very good prime minister, he’s been a very successful prime minister,” Penashue stated. “As a matter of fact, our prime minister has resolved … probably the most outstanding land claims … then any prime minister in the history of Canada.

“I think he will continue to be a good prime minister, because he’s very focused on the economy. As you know, without jobs, we have nothing.”

derek.montague@thelabradorian.ca

 

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