Saturday, April 26, 2008

Conservatives Sue Elections Canada - And the Fallout Afterward

It is the contention of the Conservative Party and their sheep-like blogging folks that Elections Canada raided their offices as a retaliatory action for lawsuits brought against Elections Canada by said Conservative Party. That's their story and they're sticking to it. Some have even called the "raid" an RCMP investigation. And most of them are asking why Elections Canada never stepped in and investigated Liberals when the sponsorship scandal was affecting the Liberals.

To the latter. The sponsorship program was designed to promote Canadian unity. Placement of the Canada flag etc. were at the heart of the scandal. Ad agencies, through crooked bureaucrats, bilked the system and stole millions of dollars of taxpayers money. Three guys are doing time. Some money has been recaptured. One ex-Liberal organizer turned business exec from the early 90's has been charged and not convicted. Those charges however have nothing to do with sponsorship whatsoever. Another so-called organizer had his House raided, and no charges are laid to date.

So, a bunch of ad execs scammed the Liberal Party and Canadian taxpayers. The LIBERALS ordered an inquiry. They got an inquiry. We, as Liberals, were and are prepared to face the consequences. As a result of this investigation not a single elected member of the Liberal Party of Canada has been charged or implicated in this scandal to date.

Now to the former, the Elections Canada investigation into the Conservative Party's overspending in the 2006 election campaign. There seems to be some confusion as to why the RCMP were involved and why they were wearing vests. Well, it's simple really. When a warrant is granted to secure files, computers etc. by a government body, the body has to utilize agencies that can help them enforce and secure the said warrant. In this case EC utilized the RCMP. As for the vests? Um. On duty officers are generally required to wear them regardless of their assignment of the day.

The basic argument that the Conservatives seem to be snowing the Canadian public with is that this warrant was sought after by EC as payback for the Conservatives lodging lawsuits against EC. As they say, "the timing was impeccable". And, "EC should have held off until the civil suits were over". Laughable really, but some people would take those words as gospel I guess.

Firstly, an EC investigation does not end at the thought of a civil suit. EC has a job to do and they do it. Imagine if every criminal charged of a crime lodged a suit against the other party? Nobody would ever get to trial. The fact is 53 of 67 Conservative candidates refused or were told not to co-operate in an EC investigation. 14 candidates did co-operate. Of the 14, I'm going to hazard a guess that you will see more affidavits like the ones in my previous post. Affidavits of Conservative candidates that are admitting their party hung them out to dry. Why? Because they don't want to be found guilty under the Elections Canada Act.

The basis for the suit by the Conservatives seems to be that the expenses claimed by these 67 candidates were legal and that, as such, should be attributed to the candidates campaign and not the national campaign and as such should be eligible for refund claims.

If they are successful, The Conservative ridings involved will get a taxpayer refund of $777,000. That's where the pitfalls come into play for this clear, accountable Conservative Party. These are basically lawsuits to get taxpayer's money.

When they lose these suits - and they will - what do you think the Canadian public will demand? One cathcphrase I guess that will be used is "not only did you do something illegal, but you lodged a lawsuit to knowingly fraud Canadians of $777,000 to compound it?".

The email documentation obtained by EC seems to clearly outline that the Conservative Party was telling its candidates that the money being wired to their accounts were not to be utilized by the candidates. These monies were to be transferred back immediately and to be claimed as an advertising expense on TV ads. Feel free to view any of the filed returns. They are all on the EC website, so it's available to the public. You can clearly see where the Conservative Fund - the Agent for the Conservative Party - transfers money to candidates and the return by the candidates back to the fund and written off as advertising.

Now, here is the difference between this and the Liberal adscam. Adscam was a deplorable scheme concocted by greedy ad execs and a greedy Bureaucrat named Chuck Guite that took advantage of both the Liberal Party and the Canadian taxpayer. Adscam was not part of an election campaign. It was part of a sponsorship program. No rebate was applied for since it was not a part of an election campaign. That is why Elections Canada is not investigating Adscam.

The Conservatives on the other hand used party members running for office to help fundraise for the next election. In fact, 4 sitting cabinet ministers are involved in this scheme. Four cabinet ministers have actively participated in a scheme that, if the Conservatives win their case against EC, will net their 67 ridings $777,000 from the taxpayers. And, once again, the majority of these in and out ridings are in none other than Quebec. In fact Conservative General Lawrence Cannon is involved. You think he would know better - not that he's guilty or anything.

Now to the conclusions. The Conservatives will lose, settle or drop their civil suits against EC. All three scenarios have the same affect on the party - they can no longer call themselves the clean, accountable party. Canadians will toss them on their blue butts out to the curb. Are the Conservatives going to be as responsible as Paul Martin was and call a full inquiry into this? You bet not. They aren't prepared to face the consequences that Liberals were prepared to face. That's a fact Jack.

Then again, what do I know.


Northern PoV said...

I agree with most of what you say.

As far as this one goes ...
"not only did you do something illegal, but you lodged a lawsuit to knowingly fraud Canadians of $777,000 to compound it?". is an angle I haven't seen discussed.

Given the flush coffers and successful fund raising of the CPC I doubt they launched the lawsuit to cause they wanted/needed the money. (They may have wanted it to go to the local ridings and that is certainly how they sold this dubious practice to the candidates involved.)
By the time they got caught, I believe they sued for the main reason that "a good offense is the best defense". The money was incidental and they would have written it off to make it all go away. But they thought they needed to pick (and could win) a fight with EC.
But it looks bad either way so who cares?

Jay said...

This is just an attempt to get dicredit EC get them to back off.


Well all the money the cons have CAN'T be spent in an election as they are subject to a limit that all parties have to abide by except the cons want to spend much much more. They bought the last election with just a paltry 1 million over what they were allowed. If EC backs down they can spend whatever they want. Buying works and the cons know it. They have nothing to offer but spin and spin only gets out in the form of direct communication such as ads, especially in an election campaign when people are paying attention.

James Curran said...

Those NFL playoff ads are expensive. $11,597 per riding is a nice little fundraiser.

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