Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
During the last federal election campaign, the New Democratic Party of Canada publicized allegations made by our candidate in Abbotsford, B.C., Mr. Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson, of an attempt to bribe him in the course of the election.
We also arranged for Mr. Hansen-Carlson to repeat these allegations to the media across Canada on January 13, 2006. These allegations were specifically made against the candidate of the Liberal Party of Canada, Mr. David Oliver, and his campaign manager, Mr. Gordie Kahlon.
A press release was issued claiming that Mr. Oliver and Mr. Kahlon should be investigated for breaching section 481 of the Canada Elections Act.
These allegations should never have been made public, nor should we have encouraged Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson to repeat them without having done appropriate due diligence to check the factual basis and the law surrounding these allegations.
The New Democratic Party admits that we seriously erred in making the allegations public, and in putting a young and inexperienced candidate in the position where he felt justified in making those allegations and to repeat them on some 40 occasions to media across Canada. There were never any facts to support an allegation of bribery or attempted bribery.
As a result of our allegations and actions, David Oliver was dismissed by the former Prime Minister of Canada as the Abbotsford candidate of the Liberal Party of Canada.
The NDP formally apologizes to them, their friends, families, political supporters and, in particular, the voters of Abbotsford, who cast their votes while the candidate's character and conduct had been improperly put under a cloud by our campaign team's actions.
The NDP made another serious error in judgment. On January 23, 2006, the senior counsel for the Commissioner of Canada Elections sent a letter to us in response to a letter written by Mr. Eric Hebert to Elections Canada on January 13, 2006. We should have made it public immediately upon receiving it.
The result was that Mr. Oliver and Mr. Kahlon remained under a cloud of suspicion far longer than was appropriate. We erred in not making that letter public immediately and we acknowledge that.
Mr. Oliver and Mr. Kahlon have been paid damages by our party to resolve the lawsuit.
In addition, we want to make this public apology in the House of Commons to put into Hansard our acknowledgement of very serious errors and to set the matter right.
As deputy leader, I am not satisfied with the manner in which this was handled. The NDP now has a procedure to ensure all due diligence in matters of fact and law.
I am pleased to say that I have met with Mr. Oliver and Mr. Kahlon. This statement in the House of Commons is for them and their families.
I wish Mr. Oliver and Mr. Kahlon the best for their future in private and in public life, and wish to assure the House, Canadians and the voters of Abbotsford that this kind of incident will not be repeated again by the New Democratic Party of Canada.