Peter Penashue quits the cabinet and resigns his seat

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue announced today that he will be quitting the Harper cabinet and resigning his Labrador seat in order to run in a by-election.

The move comes as Penashue is under a scandalous cloud regarding his campaign during the 2011 election as he may have breached the limit and taken a corporate donation. Penashue’s defenders in the party state that he wasn’t aware of what had happened. Penashue is likely running to clear the air and take responsibility. He has also paid back $30,000 to the Receiver General for “ineligible” donations to his last campaign.

Penashue won Labrador for the Conservative Party beating incumbent Todd Russell with a margin of less than 1% of the popular vote. Liberals are now inevitably making the claim the seat was stolen now that Penashue has acknowledged the scandal.

Minister Denis Lebel will take over Penashue’s cabinet responsibilities as the interim intergovernmental affairs minister.

Here are the poll-by-poll breakdowns of Labrador in 2011. You can explore these results here.

Here is Penashue’s full statement:

“Due to mistakes that were made by an inexperienced volunteer in filing the Elections Canada return from the last campaign, I appointed a new Official Agent to work with Elections Canada to make any needed amendments to my campaign return.
 
During the examination we became aware that there were ineligible donations accepted by the former Official Agent.
 
Although I was unaware of the inaccuracies in the return, I believe I must be accountable to the people who elected me and therefore I am stepping down as the Member of Parliament for Labrador and will seek re-election through a by-election. I will also be stepping down as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada.
 
My record as Member of Parliament for Labrador and Minister in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government over the past two years is one that I am very proud of.
 
I have worked to secure federal support for the development of Muskrat Falls, which will lead to $1.9 billion for our economy and thousands of jobs for Labrador. I have also worked with government and private industry to increase internet speed in Labrador, and delivered federal funding to pave the Trans-Labrador Highway.
 
There is much more to do for the people of Labrador, including protecting our way of life. We have scrapped the long-gun registry despite the efforts of the NDP and Liberals to keep it, and now we must continue to fight to defend the seal hunt against the NDP and Liberal parliamentarians who want to ban it. I will also continue to lead the defence of the polar bear hunt, something that is very important to Labradorians.

And the statement from the Prime Minister,

“The Honourable Minister Denis Lebel, currently the Minister responsible for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, will assume responsibility for Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada.
 
“Minister Lebel is now also responsible for the overall management and coherence of relations with provincial and territorial governments and for strengthening Canadian unity.”
 
“I would like to thank Mr. Penashue for his service as Minister and to the people of Labrador.”