OTTAWA -- Beleaguered Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue broke his silence on Tuesday amidst allegations of 2011 election spending irregularities.
Penashue, who has frequently skirted Ottawa reporters and has allowed other ministers to respond to opposition questions on election spending in the Commons, said he would tell his side of the story next Tuesday.
"I will be explaining my situation," Penashue told reporters. "Look, I'm under pressure. There's lots going on and I want to speak with my constituents and explain what happened during the election. I think once they hear the explanation I think they will be in a better position to understand how things unfolded. But, in the meantime, I will be - once this week is over - I'll be flying to Labrador."
Penashue and other MPs will spend next week in their ridings because the House of Commons is on a break.
The NDP said Penashue was "missing in action" last week and interim Liberal leader Bob Rae previously accused the Labrador MP of buying his seat.
Penashue, who beat out a Liberal incumbent by 79 votes, has come under fire since Election Canada documents pointed to a sweetheart deal his team arranged with a Labrador airline during the election. Documents show Provincial Airlines charged $7,000 for flights and wrote off other costs.
Penashue also reportedly received a $5,500 cheque from a construction company during the election, even though corporate donations are banned. There is also a $1,200 donation cap set out by Elections Canada.
Penashue's former campaign manager, Reginald Bower, issued an apology this summer for issues in Elections Canada paperwork after it was learned the team spent nearly $4,000 more than the legal election spending limit.
Bower has since received an appointment to oversee the federal-provincial board regulating Newfoundland's offshore oil sector but the Conservative government has blamed Penashue's overspending issues on him.
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