Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In and Out scandal is in again

In case you've fogotten, the Conservative Party are still in court with Elections Canada, trying to squeeze more money out of the taxpayers they're not entitled to, as part of the In and Out scandal.

According to CP, Elections Canada has filed its final argument in the case with the court, an argument CP calls "hard-hitting" that provides morre details on In and Out, which Elections Canada calls a "scheme."

``Senior officials in the party appear to have determined that the party's legal spending limit would not allow it to spend as much as it wished on its national advertising program,'' says the brief by lawyer Barbara McIsaac.

The 64-page document cites party emails, as well as memos and email correspondence with the agency that placed the ads, to argue the expenses were actually incurred by the party rather than 67 candidates who claimed them as their own.

The court submission calls the ad program a ``scheme.'' Party headquarters transferred tens of thousands of dollars into the campaigns of individual candidates, who had agreed beforehand to transfer the money out of their campaign accounts back to the party as payment for their purported share of the ad costs.


The brief emphasizes Mayrand's argument that candidates, as well as the party, were unable to provide evidence that the candidates, not the party, incurred the advertising expenses and arranged the contracts with Retail Media.

It cites a new affidavit from an Elections Canada investigator that quotes party emails saying senior Tory officials were concerned in December 2005 the party was running out of room within its legal spending limit for the lengthy campaign.

The brief says Public Works Minister Christian Paradis would have exceeded his spending limit by more than $7,000 had the party not given him an unexplained credit of $10,000 for his share of the ad spending.

Former foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier would have exceeded his spending limit had his invoice also not been reduced and had he been charged production costs like the other Quebec candidates.
For background, the court case was launched by the Conservatives to appeal the Elections Canada ruling that Consevative candidates weren't allowed to claim this national advertising as a local expense, and therefore claim a rebate for it from the taxpayers. They're going to court to overturn Elections Canada, and get hundreads of thousands of dollars from the taxpayers they're just not entitled to.

This court case is seperate from the ongoing investigation by Elections Commissioner William Corbett, which sparked the RCMP aid of Consevative Paty headquarters.

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Sixth Estate said...

Unfortunately, since they're going to court, I guess the taxpayers are now going to lose either way. If they win (and I assume they won't), we'll lose the hundreds of thousands of dollars you mention.

And if we win, which I think we will, we'll have wasted an enormous amount of public money fighting a pointless lawsuit with our governing political party.

It really is a bizarre situation. Do we at least get to fine them in the end to recoup some of our losses?

Gayle said...

RevDave - they could be ordered to pay costs if they lose the lawsuit.

The quasi-criminal investigation is separate, and if charged and convicted they could be ordered to pay a modest fine.

I suspect the lawsuit was instigated because the CPC became aware of the investigation under the Elections Act. They could use the lawsuit (as they have done) to delay any potential charges, and also as fodder to get their dubes/donors to pony up more cash.

Ted Betts said...


Actually it started the other way around, if memory serves.

First, the Conservative brain trust realized they did not have enough spending room to run the kind of campaign they wanted so they concocted the funding scheme whereby they would force ridings that (a) had spending room and (b) were either sure losers or sure winners to take their loan and give it back to the national campaign (in and out). The emails are damning.

Second, the ridings submitted claims for the ad expenses as riding campaign expenses. Elections Canada said no, those are national campaign expenses.

Third, the Conservatives took them to court to appeal that decision.

At the same time, having investigated the riding claims in deciding whether to accept or reject them, Elections Canada realized that the national campaign had done this because they were at their limit, so an investigation into the national party was launched.