An Ottawa member of Parliament is under investigation by the federal ethics watchdog for her “conduct” in endorsing her husband’s municipal election bid.
Anita Vandenbeld is the Liberal MP for Ottawa West–Nepean. Her husband Don Dransfield ran as a candidate for city councillor in Bay ward in Ottawa’s 2018 municipal election.
CBC News reported earlier this month that residents in the ward had received automated phone calls from Vandenbeld, in which she identified herself as an MP and asked voters to cast a ballot in support of her husband.
The conflict of interest code for MPs spells out that members are forbidden from using “his or her position … to influence a decision of another person so as to further the Member’s private interests or those of a member of his or her family, or to improperly further another person’s or entity’s private interests.”
In a statement to Global News on Wednesday night, Vandenbeld said she did not use parliamentary resources in endorsing Dransfield’s campaign.
She said she’s never been “under the impression” that the code’s intent was “to dissuade a Member of Parliament from encouraging or supporting those who choose to serve to represent Canadians at any level of government.”
“I believe that making my views known to the residents of Bay Ward as to whom I think is best suited to represent their interests at City Hall is not analogous to a private corporation hiring a specific individual,” she argued.
“I campaigned openly and publicly for my spouse, as many other couples have done in the past.”
Ottawa election results 2018
A spokesperson for Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion said the office opened its investigation into Vandenbeld’s conduct “following a preliminary review” and would not comment further on the matter at this time.
Vandenbeld said she will “cooperate fully” with the commissioner’s inquiry.
On Oct. 22, Dransfield lost the race in Bay ward to school board trustee Theresa Kavanagh. He came in second with just short of 18 per cent of the vote.
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