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Allen should be investigated - Lee

MLAs "not above the law"

Andrew Raven
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 28/04) - A Yellowknife MLA is calling for a criminal investigation into Roger Allen's claim for a government housing allowance.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Sandy Lee rejects suggestions from MLAs Paul Delorey and Kevin Menicoche that no other action is necessary.

On Monday, Range Lake's Sandy Lee said the Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA may have broken the law when he claimed to live in a dilapidated shack in order to qualify for a lucrative housing allowance from the territorial government.

"MLAs are not above the law," said Lee.

"The government and the police should look into it."

Allen has been dogged by controversy since July 5, when the territorial government announced that it had cancelled his $30,150 annual housing allowance and ordered him to repay nearly $10,000 in public funds.

In reaching the decision, the Board of Management -- a government body that oversees MLA expenses -- rejected Allen's claim that he maintained a home in Inuvik.

Allen's "official" residence turned out to be a small wooden shack without electricity or road access, located deep in the bush about 50km outside of Inuvik.

Allen also owns a house in Grimshaw, Alberta, where Yellowknifer found him last week on holidays with his family.

Lee said it's "a serious offence to file false documents," and rejected suggestions from MLAs Paul Delorey and Kevin Menicoche that no other action is necessary.

"Roger may not have done anything inappropriate. But if there is any indication that he falsified documents, we should look into it," she said.

"MLAs are supposed to be role models," said Lee. "We should be held to a standard even higher than the general public."

Lee received support from Yellowknife Centre MLA Robert Hawkins, who said Allen's actions could tarnish the image of all elected officials. "It's unfortunate," Hawkins said. "It shakes the credibility of all MLAs, including the ones who work hard to represent their constituents."

Hawkins said the ultimate decision whether to file a formal complaint against Allen should lie with the Board of Management.

"It appears as though there is a double standard for politicians and members of the public," said Hawkins. "Any other employee of the GNWT would be fired and probably charged. I think we need to ask the Board of Management to explain their decision."

Lee said she spent Monday researching her next step, which could include filing a formal complaint with the RCMP. She hoped the territorial government would comply with any investigation.

While Hawkins said it was important for the public to see politicians are "accountable," he hoped the government wouldn't be bogged down by the controversy.

"We have better things to do than sit around and babysit members," he said.