Liberal MP says probe into claims against Patrick Brown should extend to Conservative Party

A Liberal MP is asking Canada’s election watchdog to determine whether the Conservative Party benefited from the alleged financial transgression that led to Patrick Brown’s disqualification from the leadership race.

The Conservatives’ Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC) ejected Brown from the race late Tuesday, citing “serious allegations of wrongdoing” related to financing rules. Brown has denied the allegations and says he plans to appeal the decision.

The Conservative Party already has referred the allegations against Brown to the interim commissioner of Canada Elections, the independent body tasked with ensuring the rules of the Canada Elections Act are complied with and enforced.

Ontario Liberal MP Adam van Koeverden wrote Elections Canada interim commissioner Marc Chénier on Thursday asking him to look into whether the party stood to benefit from Brown’s alleged wrongdoing.

“Any investigation must not be limited to an individual leadership contestant but must follow the money if there was potential benefit to the Party as a whole,” van Koeverden wrote in his letter.

Van Koeverden said the Conservatives could have benefited from a “monetary windfall” from membership fees paid through Brown’s campaign and Brown’s leadership dues.

According to sources who have spoken with CBC News, it’s alleged that at least one corporation paid one of Brown’s campaign workers. The sources said the LEOC’s decision to disqualify Brown was based on more than just verbal allegations and cited documents and financial records.

Liberal MP Adam van Koeverden rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on June 3. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

In his letter, van Koeverden also asked the commissioner to look into whether services provided to the Brown campaign “furthered the political interests of the Conservative Party but [were] paid for by third-party entities.”

Brown told CBC’s Power & Politics Wednesday that while he was presented with allegations that a member of his campaign was being paid by a private company, he was not given details that would allow his team to conduct its own investigation or properly respond to the charges.

In response to van Koeverden’s letter, Brown campaign spokesperson Chisholm Pothier repeated Brown’s assertion that the campaign was not provided with sufficient evidence about the allegations.

“It appears the Liberals are following the CPC tactic of using Elections Canada to make unsubstantiated claims seem serious,” Pothier said in an email.

The commissioner’s office has confirmed receiving both the Conservative Party’s allegations against Brown and van Koeverden’s request to extend the investigation to the party.

LEOC communications director Yaroslav Baran declined to comment on van Koeverden’s letter. CBC also asked for a comment from the Conservative Party but has yet to receive a response.

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