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Manitoba MP James Bezan settles election campaign dispute with Elections Canada

OTTAWA - Manitoba Conservative MP James Bezan says he has settled a dispute with Elections Canada that at one point threatened his right to sit and vote in the House of Commons.

In June last year, the chief electoral officer asked the Speaker to suspend Bezan over his 2011 elections expense report.

The matter was referred to a Commons committee.

The elections watchdog disagreed with Bezan's handling of some signage expenses and demanded a corrected expense report.

Bezan says the matter is now settled.

He describes the problem as a difference of opinion. The signs were his MP billboards, erected at different times over several years.

"The elapsed time, the numerous invoices and the question of sign ownership was confusing for everyone involved," he said in a statement.

The matter is now cleared up, with only $458 difference between two expense returns, he said.

"My final campaign return for the 2011 election is below the allowable election expense limit and my personal contributions are also below the allowable limit."

Heritage Minister Shelly Glover was also threatened with suspension over her 2011 spending. She threatened to go to court over the matter, but eventually reached a deal with Elections Canada.

Under the "compliance agreement" struck last fall, Glover's campaign acknowledged overspending during the 2011 campaign due to "inadvertence and an honest misunderstanding of what constitutes an election expense."

The deal said that if Glover runs in the next campaign, she will underspend to balance the overrun last time.

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