NDP MP Pat Martin speaks to the media at the National Press Gallery in Ottawa, Nov. 3, 2011. (Andre Forget/QMI Agency)
OTTAWA - New Democrat Pat Martin promises he won't use his MP travel budget for a national fundraising tour to cover his defamation lawsuit legal bills.
"That's not a legitimate use of our travel privileges," Martin said Wednesday.
Martin is trying to raise $250,000 so he can pay his lawyer as he and the NDP are sued for $5 million by Edmonton-based automated call company RackNine Inc., for comments the MP made in February.
In the midst of controversy over automated calls made on behalf of the Conservatives in the 2011 election, Martin publicly called the company "rascals" and "goons" and accused it of trying to "defraud the electoral system."
The MP apologized in April, but RackNine didn't call off the lawsuit.
Martin says he hasn't raised any cash yet, though he's had some offers.
"I'm still working with a law firm to get the legalities of a trust fund worked out," he said, adding the fund will cover travel and legal bills.
Martin says he'll still have to be very careful not to mix personal fundraising with his summertime duties as an MP.
Taxpayers may yet end up covering some of Martin's legal expenses if the Commons board of internal economy agrees to it.
Even then, the MP says it would only be partial coverage if he wins the case.
Meantime, the NDP won't dip into its pockets to help out Martin.
"No. The party has got their own lawsuit that they're facing," he said. "This is my problem and my obligation."