Tuesday, March 24, 2009

(Video) Bruce Hallsor, Gary Lunn and Saanich-Gulf Islands

The Globe's Bill Curry writes this morning on a story that online media like The Tyee and Public Eye Online have been on for some time: the strange doings last election in Saanich-Gulf Islands:

Nudity, phantom phone calls, party switching: The 2008 federal election campaign in Saanich-Gulf Islands had it all.

Now Conservative MP and cabinet minister Gary Lunn, who won a hard-fought bid for re-election, is facing allegations his campaign had improper ties to third-party groups that bought pro-Lunn advertising.

New Democratic Party MP Bill Siksay sent a letter yesterday to the Commissioner of Elections Canada asking for an investigation into whether the advocacy groups broke the law.

"These previously unheard of organizations, with links to the minister and his political organization, ran ad campaigns endorsing the minister totalling over $12,000, a figure that if the minister's local campaign would have spent would have put him over the legal limit. Was this an attempt to do an end run around the spending limits?" Mr. Siksay asked in the House of Commons yesterday. He later produced Elections Canada filings for the groups.

Good on Bill Siksay for sending the letter to Elections Canada and raising the issue in the HoC. As Public Eye Online reported last week though, local Liberal riding association president Paul McKivett has already written to Elections Canada on the third-party funding issue, and Elections Canada is examining the allegations (as a precursor to a possible investigation):

In a March 2 letter soon to be made public by the Saanich-Gulf Islands federal Liberal constituency association, Elections Canada legal counsel John Dickson said the agency is reviewing the documentation filed by third party advertisers.

And, according to Mr. Dickson, Elections Canada's commissioner William Corbett could order an investigation if he believes the Saanich-Gulf Island advertiser filings deserve further review.

Back to the Globe though, and some of the specific allegations:

Recently released Elections Canada records show four of the groups - Citizens Against Higher Taxes, Economic Advisory Council of Saanich, Dean Park Advocacy Association and Saanich Peninsula Citizens Council - all used the same financial agent and provided the same postal address.

That address also belongs to Bruce Hallsor, a Victoria lawyer listed as an executive member of Mr. Lunn's Electoral District Association responsible for "election readiness." The Canada Elections Act states that third parties cannot spend more than $3,000, plus an adjustment for inflation, on advertising in support of a specific candidate and cannot splinter into separate groups to avoid breaching that limit.

Mr. Hallsor said yesterday there was nothing improper with the fact that he filed the groups' reports. He said he played a small role in Mr. Lunn's campaign and the groups had no direct involvement with the Lunn campaign, nor any knowledge of Mr. Lunn's campaign finances. He also said the groups conveyed different messages in their ads.
Very amusing to see Hallsor trying to distance himself from Lunn and minimize their relationship as much as possible, despite the fact he's a long-time member of his riding executive and even has responsibility, as Curry notes, for election readiness.

And when Lunn was one of the dissident MPs suspended from the Canadian Alliance caucus in 2001 by Stockwell Day, guess who was sent-up to CBC Newsworld to defend him? Yes, that's right, it was his good buddy Bruce Hallsor:

No one is buying your attempt to distance yourself from Lunn here Bruce, sorry. It just doesn't pass the laugh test.

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1 comment:

KyleHarrietha said...

This bear a striking similarity to the Conservative presentation reported at Ryerson University in Toronto a couple of weeks back: http://ryersonfreepress.ca/site/?p=745&preview=true.