MP Hiebert irritated by early-campaign claims
South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP Russ Hiebert has lashed back at charges from challengers that his federal election literature “jumped the gun” before the election was called.
“I can’t believe that he (Liberal candidate Hardy Staub) is asking this when his own party, his own candidates were out doing this,” Hiebert said Tuesday afternoon.
“Is he really that ill-informed?”
An angry-sounding Hiebert also rejected criticism from other candidates who suggested his campaign mail-out – which reached mailboxes across the riding on the morning of March 25, the day before the election was called for May 2 – violated the spirit of fair play.
“Hardy and his party had advertising out last week – there’s no difference,” Hiebert said. “The NDP and other Liberal candidates had their campaign signs up last week – there’s no difference.”
Hiebert also said – contrary to statements by Staub, NDP candidate Susan Keeping and independent candidate Aart Looye to Peace Arch News this week – that there was no question of where funds for the campaign mail-out came from.
“(The mail-out) says clearly that it was authorized by the agent for the Russ Hiebert campaign. It was paid for by the local Conservative electoral district association,” Hiebert said, noting the mail-out – like other campaign literature circulated by the Conservatives – only indicates their readiness to do battle at the polls.
“It shows that we’re organized and prepared to defend our government and its policies.”
The Canada Elections Act limits election advertising once the writ is dropped; it does not address advertising outside an electoral period.
In further conversation Wednesday, Hiebert responded to questions about Green party candidate Larry Colero’s criticism that a half-page colour advertisement in the Peace Arch News March 18 promoted Hiebert without making mention of the government. The MP confirmed the ad was taxpayer-funded but said it was to inform his constituents of the impending federal budget.
“That was published in advance of the budget being released,” Hiebert told Peace Arch News. “I know that there was other MPs who were doing exactly that same thing in terms of trying to draw attention to what the government was going to be proposing the following week.
“I have a budget for advertising, and you would know that; the paper would certainly be the beneficiary of that. I don’t understand the criticism. MPs are given a budget.”