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Delicious irony

You might remember a court case involving the Conservatives “in-and-out” spending scheme which seemed to favour the Conservatives initially, causing Conservative MP and spokesperson Pierre Poilievre to crow the “total vindication” line:

Last January, a Federal Court judge rejected Elections Canada’s claim that advertising expenses attributed to Tory candidates during the 2006 federal election should have been reported as national campaign expenses. The Conservatives claimed “total vindication” at the time, while Elections Canada sought leave to appeal.

However, it seems the Conservatives find out they may have gotten a bit ahead of themselves, and that 3 Cabinet Ministers are in peril from this ruling, as well as Maxime Bernier:

But […]

Harper too clever by half?

I get what is being said over here by Woman at Mile 0, and I understand Steve’s suspicion, and I know Harper gets credited with being a Machiavellian master strategist, whether he deserves the label or not, but sometimes you can outsmart yourselves, and I think Harper has potentially done so here, if he goes ahead and pulls the plug.

You’ve got a Prime Minister who can be presented to the public as breaking the spirit, if not the letter, of his own fixed term election law. Regardless that the law has a loophole in it, he’s going to come across pretty badly trying to explain to the public […]

Testifying through a blog

I guess if Sam Goldstein – he being the Conservative candidate for Trinity-Spadina who stormed in to the Ethics Committee demanding to be heard on Thursday rather then his scheduled day, and then stormed right out – won’t testify to the Ethics Committee, they can at least take a look at his blog comments left over at Kady O’ Malley’s blog, as he’s felt compelled to leave some defence of his actions over there. There have been some other commenters asking him pointed questions about his behaviour and his antics and if anyone in the Conservative party put him up to it, which he’s yet to answer. It will be interesting to see what (if anything) his reply is to those.

More Conservative stunt attempts at Ethics Committee “In and out” hearing

Apparently, the Conservatives getting bad publicity over Doug Finley’s stunt on Monday (trying to invite himself to speak to the Ethics Committee and then leaving in a huff having to be removed by security officials and leaving in a huff when they refused to allow him to do so and to not butt in front of everyone else who was scheduled that day) didn’t deter the Conservative strategists geniuses from trying it again today with another of their sympathetic candidates. Problem is, the Committee didn’t bite, and the guy blew up, which I don’t think the Conservatives had in mind – at least not without the opposition members goading him or something. Cue Kady O’Malley:

Goldstein, formerly the Conservative candidate in Trinity Spadina, who was one of the no-show witnesses from Tuesdays session, turned up this morning in true Doug Finleyian fashion, demanding to be heard, despite the fact that he wasnt on the schedule. Literally demanding – as in, yelling from his seat in the audience, after unsuccessfully attempting to buttonhole the chair during the opening moments of the meeting. Instead, the committee voted to hear him after the committee had finished with the witnesses who were on the schedule – the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, and the Chief Electoral Officer. It quickly became apparent, however, was not what he – or the government – had in mind. They had visions of him being hauled out by security – again, in instant classic Finley style – to a waiting scrum, which would have nicely stomped on any coverage of the hearing itself, and would – in the minds of whoever came up with this stunt, that is – underscore the Conservative claim that the committee is a farce, a debacle and a partisan witchhunt.

So the opposition wouldn’t play along, but voted to hear him after the other witnesses were finished testifying, and even decided to let him stay and watch the proceedings. Pretty reasonable, but the guy was obviously looking for an excuse to cause an uproar, and he found one. Problem is, he might have gone over the top with his antics:

When the committee began debating whether to bring Mayrand back after the lunch break, however, it apparently pushed him over the brink: He began screaming at the chair, accusing him of making allowances for other witnesses – witnesses who were there, its worth noting, on the day that they had been invited to appear…He then conducted a running scrum from the hallway, out the front door, and down the front drive, yelling the whole way, with a retinue of reporters in tow. Faced with similarly spirited questioning from reporters, he attempted to storm off, perhaps unaware that journalists – as individuals, or in the collective known as the scrum, do have the power of movement. At one point, he seemed to have escaped, but then realized that he had forgotten his companion along the side of the road, so was forced to go back and rescue her, as Conservative staffers looked on in horror.

It’s rather obvious what the Conservatives are trying to do here (note I said TRYING). They’re attempting to turn the Ethics Committee hearings into a sideshow to distract from the media reporting all the juicy details of the “In and out” electoral financing scheme and instead focus on the circus, in the hopes that the media will just point to this and say this is another example of partisan bickering.

The problem is that they’re screwing even that part up when their sympathetic witnesses start going off on rants and tangents. All this is doing is making a) the Conservatives look real bad in that its rather obvious they’re trying to short-circuit this, and b) I predict he public is oging to take a look at this and wonder why all the stunts if they have nothing to hide?

B-Team redux

If these allegations from yesterday about the Conservatives telling potential witnesses to stay away from coming to the Ethics Committee to testify about the “In and out” electoral financing scandal are true (which left the Conservative B-Team on the committee basically accusing the clerk of the Ethics Committee of lying), someone is a) stupid, and b) in deep trouble:

You know, its worth pausing for a moment here to really appreciate the magnitude of whats being alleged here. If these mystery witnesses – and the clerk – are telling the truth, then *someone*, at least, did something very, very, very wrong – and if it was the Conservative Party, or someone acting on its behalf, the political consequences could be immense. Fiddling with expenses is one thing; witness intimidation is quite another.

I don’t know if this fits the phrase “it’s not the crime, it’s the coverup”, but it’s pretty similar:

Theres also the small matter of that letter from the clerk – you know, the one in which he said that one person on the witness list told his staff that the Conservative Party had instructed them not to show up, which the Tories have categorically denied. Given the incendiary nature of that particular allegation – and the possibility that other witnesses might have received similar warnings – they may end up making more news by their absence than they would if they just showed up. Which is sort of symbolic of this whole scandal, really.

Not quite Watergate Nixonian stuff, but if this keeps up, we’re getting there.

UPDATE: Steve is right. If you have nothing to hide as you proclaim, Conservative Party, then why are you hiding?

“In and out” electoral scheme explained easily.

Just a little follow up to my last blogpost done very early this AM: I sometime have gotten frustrated at the media explaining the Conservatives “in and out” electoral scheme as being “complex”. This is the media narrative the Conservatives want and have been pushing themselves (in addition of course to the false statement that “other parties do it too”) in order to confuse the public.

Over at Impolitical, she explains very clearly in 2 sentences or less what the “In and Out” scheme is about:

…the federal Conservatives targeting unused local budgets across the country by moving funds in-and-out leads to additional untold millions in a national spending advantage for Conservatives. And that’s a violation of the equal playing field electoral rules we have.

That’s all there is to it. Very simple, and one the other parties should be pushing over and over again to the public. I believe one would call this the KISS explanation of “in and out”.

(The link inside her explanation, if you’re wondering, shows how they get that spending advantage. A tad longer, but worth reading).

The B-Team

I’ve been kind of incognito today (yesterday) so I didn’t get a chance to immediately pen my thoughts on the day’s events, but all I can say is this to the Conservatives:

Please, PLEASE keep having Gary Goodyear, Dean Del Maestro, Mike Wallace and all the rest of that B-Team bunch spout off at the Ethics Committee at witnesses from your own party, and in general.

The reasons?

– You’re giving us bloggers over here on the Progressive and Liberal blogosphere lots of great entertainment at reading Kady O’Malley’s liveblogging of the event

– You’re giving us lots of great blogging material when its usually pretty quiet in the summer.

– Most importantly, you’re giving Canadians a chance to see how you knowingly bent the election financing rules and cheated, and that your former candidates who are here at the Committee testifying are far more competent and honest then your Conservative guys are. (And the Doug Finley attempt at intimidation or trying to distract from the testimony or whatever the PMO master strategists were trying to gain from him being there with his little stunt today was an added bonus of bone-headedness.)

Please, as someone who wants the nation to see you for what you really are, carry on as you were.

More Ethics Committee entertainment..

.. by our Conservative mole Maclean’s Kady O’Mally as she liveblogs Day 2 of the Ethics Committee. Some of the highlights so far appear to be the Cons. claiming this is all a big fishing expedition — but then proceeding to try and delay and filibuster this Committee with inane notions. Fortunately, the chairperson Paul Szabo isn’t a Conservative, so it only gets them so far. It does look like all in attendance – Kady included – are a bit irritated today. Must be the humidity or something.

[email protected]:10 pm: The afternoon sesssion of the Ethics committee is liveblogged here by Kady, whose fingers and will to blog this griping (mostly by the Cons. unsurprisingly) appears to be fading fast.

In-And-Out returns once again

I kind of like how we seem to lurch from one scandal the Conservatives have on their hands to another different one on a seemingly weekly basis – it keep the news fresh and the discussion interesting, if you know what I mean. It also lets the public see how much crap this Conservative government has gotten into in the time it’s been in power.

Anyhow, I know there is a lot going on elsewhere today, but if you want to get yourself re-acquainted with the “In and Out” election financing problems the Cons. have with Elections Canada, Kady O’Malley of Macleans is live-blogging the proceedings at the Ethics Committee here. The Chief Electoral Officer of Elections Canada, Marc Mayrand, has been testifying so far, and it seems he’s aiming squarely at the Cons. claims of persecution:

Looks like the Conservatives arent the only ones on the offensive Mayrand just took on the But every party does it; why is Elections Canada picking on us? argument that Pierre Poilievre, among others, brings out so often. He asked the agency to look into that claim by examining all party returns for the last few election cycles. His conclusion? No, they dont.

Should be a fun day up there at the Hill 🙂

[email protected]:05 pm: Part 2 of Kady’s Liveblogging is here, where among other things, you’ll see Pierre Poilievre’s conspiracy theory claims on parade.

Conservatives hope public cynicism towards their acts means they go unpunished by the electorate.

There is an op-ed in the Toronto Star today penned by Nelson Wiseman, politicial science professor at the University of Toronto which asks a very good question: “What kind of country has a ruling party that mounts an assault on its election watchdog?”

A question that is difficult to answer. Even in Zimbabwe, where the tyrannical Robert Mugabe and his party rule with an iron fist, the country’s electoral commission wasn’t attacked when it finally released results showing Mugabe had lost his parliamentary majority. Canada and its governing Conservatives are in very isolated and dubious company indeed.

More importantly is the observation by the professor that such things as this attack on Elections Canada, the Mulroney-airbus affair, and the stonewalling of the parliamentary enquiry on the Chuck Cadman affair by the Conservatives will reinforce the publics cynical view of all parties, if not the electoral system in general.

I can’t help but think that is what the Conservatives want to happen. They want the electorate to believe that “everyone does in-and-out financing”, and they want to make the general electorate cynical towards the whole electoral process.

Why? Because, it will blunt anger toward them, and it perhaps will even depress turnout in a future election, in a country that is already experiencing falling participation rates in elections. The combination of low turnout and a cynical electorate, plus using these attacks on them as a way to rally the Conservative base to come out and vote to save them from the federal civil service/Liberal Party/media conspiracy (and the base of the Conservatives will come out and vote, as they believe these bogeyman stories) may prevent the Cons from getting deservedly booted out of office.

It is that Cons. strategy that needs to be fought against both by the opposition parties and the progressive blogosphere in order to prevent this cynicism from developing amongst the voting public. The job on the anti-Conservative side is to stoke the anger of the public against the acts of this Cons. government, to make the public or the majority of the public want to remove this government.

[email protected]:30AM: A reader from the UK informs me in comments that since the release of the election results, Mugabe and his police have started harrassing and arresting certain election officials with the eye of being able to influence the results of the presidential runoff, so post-election, Zimbabwae is obviously attacking its electoral body with much more venom then Canada’s Consrvatives are. It still doesn’t say much for Canada’s government when they share places with Zimbabwae in attacking their own country’s electoral commissions, even if Mugabe is more extreme in his case of doing it.

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