Liberals mum on Fontana allegations

London mayor Joe Fontana spoke Friday Oct. 19, 2012 about allegations that he used government...

London mayor Joe Fontana spoke Friday Oct. 19, 2012 about allegations that he used government cheques to pay for his son's wedding at the Marconi Club. (MIKE HENSEN/QMI AGENCY)

Mark Dunn, Senior National Reporter

, Last Updated: 5:02 PM ET

OTTAWA - Liberals stayed clear Friday of a controversy involving a former Grit cabinet minister accused of using his MP account to pay for his son's wedding.

Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison was the lone Grit to respond to the allegations that Joe Fontana, now the mayor of London, Ont., used more than $20,000 in public funds to pay for a 2005 reception.

"This is a matter between the mayor and the board of internal economy," Brison said about an on-going House of Commons investigation.

"I don't have any more information than any of you have at this time and I think we have to respect the investigation."

Fontana is also the subject of RCMP queries, which could lead to a criminal investigation.

The timing of the allegations comes at a critical time for the Liberals as the bedraggled party embarks on a leadership race and is still trying to regain the public trust for abusing the public purse during the sponsorship scandal.

The NDP and Conservatives seized on the charges in the Commons.

"Canadians haven't seen this kind of disrespect for their hard-earned tax dollars since the days of the Liberal sponsorship scandal," Tory MP Dean Allison said.

The NDP's Rathika Sitsabaiesan called the accusations disturbing.

"Can the Conservatives tell us what, if anything, they are doing to get this taxpayers' money back?" she asked in the Commons.

Susan Truppe, a London Tory MP and parliamentary secretary on the status of women, handled the government's response.

"We will trust experienced officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to get to the bottom of this very serious matter and determine whether any taxpayer's money was abused by the former senior Liberal cabinet minister," she said.

"It is up to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to determine whether any criminal charges will be required. The Liberals have not been in government since 2005, and if these allegations are true, then they are still stealing."

Public Works would only say that the two cheques used to pay for a reception hall originated in the House of Commons and that it acted as the conduit for payment. The agency wouldn't answer other questions.

Mark.Dunn@sunmemdia.ca

Twitter:MarkDunnSun


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