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In and Out, the Sequel? Part 2?

It very well might be if the Winnipeg Free Press’s investigation and NDP MP Pat Martin’s complaint to Elections Canada proves to be valid:

A Free Press review of Conservative expense claims turned up 50 Tory candidates who sent a total of $854,000 to the national Conservative campaign under the category of “Election surveys or other surveys and research.” In all but two of the campaigns, the amounts transferred were either $15,000 or $20,000. Sixteen campaigns saw “in-and-out” transactions, where money was paid to the central campaign, and then returned to the local campaign or where the central campaign paid money to the local campaigns and then it was returned to central. In the other 34 campaigns, the transaction only involved a local campaign paying the national campaign. In many, the transactions occurred weeks, even months, after the election was over.

Martin is quoted in the paper as saying this looks very similar to the current “in and out ” controversy that the Cons. find themselves embroiled with Elections Canada over.  As my NDP blogging colleague Cam puts it at his site, this could be another layer of a rotted onion that has been discovered, but that will be up for Elections Canada to decide, as they won’t comment on complaints till they go to court over the issue, or settle with an agreement with the parties or persons involved.

At the very least though, it appears like this is another attempt to skirt the election laws.

Naive Con Kool-Aid drinkers takes Pierre Polivere’s statements as the Gospel

So, Christian Conservative is valiantly trying to go with the notion that somehow Elections Canada is picking on the poor Conservatives and is biased/full of Liberal moles/hates free speech, etc etc. etc.

The impression I get from his blogpiece is that apparently Pierre Poilievre under the cover of parliamentary immunity quoted out of Hansard is an authoritative source for that theory.

Let me help you out Christian Con; Pierre P. is NOT a credible source. He’s been the point man on this for the Cons. since this scandal started, and neither do the media believe him outside of the National Post editors, nor do the overwhelming majority of Canadians believe […]

Things the last 2 Chief Electoral Officers have in common.

Both Marc Mayrand and his predecessor Jean-Pierre Kingsley have incurred difficulty with Stephen Harper.

Both of them have had disputes with the current Conservative Party.

And most importantly, both of them were appointed during Conservative governments – Maynard by the current government, and Jean-Pierre Kingsley in 1990 while Brian Mulroney was Prime Minister.

So,  neither Conservative Kool-Aid drinkers nor Harper nor his parrots like Pierre Poilivere can be painting these two as “Liberal appointees” out to get them.  Maybe, just maybe, they’re objective when it comes to upholding Canada’s election laws and know when a party is doing something in contravention of the Elections Act,  regardless of who it is, the laws need to be upheld.

Interesting facts about Elections Canada

An anonymous commentator over at CalgaryGrit responded to Dan’s feeling that if the current governing Cons. has no confidence in Elections Canada, then officials will either resign or get fired (Linda Keen’ed was his apt description).  That commentator made some excellent points why this wouldn’t happen, and they bear repeating here:

Under s. 13 of the Canada Elections Act, the House of Commons appoints the Chief Electoral Officer by resolution. The CEO may only be removed for cause by the Governor General on address of the Senate and House of Commons. In other words, the Governor in Council has no power to remove the CEO, for cause or otherwise. Only the Governor General, on the advice of Parliament, has that power. The Commissioner is appointed by the CEO pursuant to s. 509 of the Canada Elections Act. As it is the role of the Commissioner to ensure the Act is enforced, I doubt anyone other than the CEO could remove the Commissioner, and then only for cause. So, it is irrelevant insofar as the CEO or Commissioner’s security of tenure is concerned that the government has voted no confidence. What is important is that the CEO retains the confidence of Parliament, which he has.

That commentator then makes an interesting follow-up -  what really matters is what happens next:

Conservatives declare no confidence in a federal institution.

With regards to the Bloc Quebecois Motion that stated more or less roughly in translation  asking “That this House express its complete confidence in Elections Canada and the Federal Elections Commissioner”, the motion passed as expected, but the Conservatives apparently don’t share the sentiment, as they unbelievably voted against this. The final vote was 152 – 117, for those keeping track.

So I guess the question that needs to be asked is will the Conservatives boycott the next election?  I mean, they obviously think Elections Canada and its commissioner (the Conservative – appointed commissioner I might add) is unfair and biased against them, with the “in and out” ruling going against them, so  how can they participate in a biased election with an apparently biased federal agency?

I have a suggestion Conservatives: do a mass resignation now in protest, and let someone else be government.

[email protected]:21pm: Andrew Potter over at Macleans sarcastically wonders if its time to bring in the UN election observer teams, since the Conservative government apparently has no confidence in its federal agency that runs elections.

UPDATE [email protected]:32pm: This is a headline that just thrills me to death to see: Harper Tories Vote Non-Confidence In Elections Canada. And the part of this newstory that amuses me to no end are these 2 parts:

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have refused to join in a parliamentary show of confidence in Elections Canada, the independent watchdog charged with ensuring electoral fairness and honesty..The organization also trains election officials around the world and has monitored contentious votes in places like Haiti, Iraq and Ukraine.

The implication being that Haiti, Iraq and the Ukraine and other countries trusts Elections Canada to be fair, but our own Canadian government doesn’t. OUCH!

Ex-Conservative aide gives his version of “so what?” to in-and-out scandal.

Well, there’s at least one person writing in the media who claims that this “in-and-out” scheme by the Cons is no big deal and besides the Liberals were much worse. If you think that sounds suspiciously like an argument that a Conservative partisan would put forth, you’d be correct, as that line of reasoning comes from Rob Mitchell. And who is Rob Mitchell?

If one reads the tagline, we find out Rob was a former senior aide to former Ontario Premier Ernie Eves.  Considering how short Ernie’s tenure as premier was – 16 months – and losing the one and only election he went into,  I’m not sure too many people will take Rob all that seriously (As an aside, I wonder if Rob was one of Ernie’s advisers who convinced him to present the 2003 Ontario Budget at Magna International, rather then at the Ontario legislature. That went over well, didn’t it?).

By the way, for those who still don’t understand the workings of the in-and-out scandal, Dan Arnold over at CalgaryGrit has one of the best takes I’ve seen on it anywhere.

Interesting things to watch on Tuesday in Parliament

Via Paul Wells, we find out that the BQ has introduced this motion:

Que la Chambre exprime sa pleine et entière confiance envers Élections Canada et le Commissaire aux élections fédérales. That this House express its complete confidence in Elections Canada and the Federal Elections Commissioner (Inkless translation — ed.).

I will find it extremely hilarious if the Conservatives vote no to this motion.  Come to think of it, I wonder if Harper will bother showing up for this. I’m betting Pierre Poilievre will vote against this though, since he’s busy scurrying around trying to prove that the Conservatives scheme is legal/Elections Canada is biased because of an old 1997 ruling that may or may not even be similar to this case. In any event, since that ruling (if its even similar to this case) was done before Bill C-24 was passed ( the current elections law) and that Bill C-24 is what EC used in their determination that the Cons. in and out scheme was illegal, Pierre’s running around waving that ruling is not relevant to the discussion.

Anyhow, how about guessing how many Consetrvative MP’s will vote against the motion? All? Some? Will Harper and his Cabinet be absent from the House?

[email protected]:33pm: Impolitical shows that Pierre and the Cons. are going to have an extremely tough time trying to sell use this argument. In fact, it’s rather irrelevant, since Elections Canada has already decided they are in violation of the current Elections act. All of this you’re seeing from Pierre and the Cons is mere posturing in an attempt to convince their base and/or voters in general that they are being needlessly persecuted by the Elections Canada/Liberal/CBC cabal-conspiracy. I’ve no doubt that many of the Conservative Kool-Aid drinkers will believe this – I have bigger doubts that regular voters will.

Greg Weston of the Sun is now a member of the “liberal media”.

I half expect that pronouncement from a few conservative-supporting blogsites today after Greg Weston of the Sun chain wrote what he did  in his Sunday column titled “Some Shady Shenanigans?”.  Not so much for the actual in-and-out scheme itself – as I kind of gather he’s taking a wait and see approach as to whether or not the Cons. are found guilty of this – but he condemns Harper and the Conservatives handling of this affair:

When Elections Canada initially ruled the whole manoeuvre was out of order, Harper and his party brain trust could have been contrite, admitting what they had done was perhaps an error in judgement, if not in law, and kissed off the $700,000 in candidate rebates…But contrition is not the Harper way. Instead, the gloves came off and the brawl began amid inane political spinning.

Basically, Weston is stating that Harper and the Conservatives hung this albatross on themselves. I would argue that this is more evidence that Harper supposedly being a master strategist is a tad suspect — it DOES show he is extremely partisan however. More important in this column, and more credit to Weston for pointing this out, is that this fight Harper is having is nothing new and is but a familiar pattern:

Were this an isolated case, it could be dismissed as a strategic blunder. But it’s not. Elections Canada is only one of many independent federal agencies that have stepped into the way of the Harper bullyboys, and got the full brass-knuckle treatment for their efforts. The former information commissioner, the past ethics commissioner, the fired head of the Nuclear Safety Commission – all have left with bloodied noses from Harper and his political street gang. Problem is, while the PM and his party may be winning a few rounds, they’re not gaining many fans.

That’s an extremely good narrative to use in the next election: above and beyond the In and Out scandal, the fact that Harper and his Cons. have compromised the independence of federal agencies and/or gotten rid of people whose job it is to be impartial and make objective rulings – even if it goes against the ruling government’s wishes – is not something that too many people will agree with.

With regards to the tactics of the Cons over the In and Out scandal, as I’ve stated earlier,  I hope they keep throwing Pierre Polievre out there as spokesperson either charging everyone with forming a conspiracy against them or else trying to claim that “everyone else does this” which is easily proved to be false. It gives the Conservatives no credibility on this issue, and I think you’re seeing that with some initial polling done on the public’s reaction to this scandal.

Dissenting Conservative candidates on in-and-out scheme are all sore losers: Ryan Sparrow

Ryan Sparrow, one of the Conservative officials who attempted to selectively give the Conservative spin on Elections Canada’s warrant and raid on their HQ to certain reporters, has resurfaced.

According to Ryan, all those Conservative candidates out there who are joining in the chorus about how wrong this in-and-out stunt was are just sore losers:

Conservative Party spokesman Ryan Sparrow says the allegations are merely gripes from a failed campaign. “These advertisements purchased by the local campaigns were identified as such in the tag lines required by the rules for election advertising,” Mr. Sparrow wrote in an e-mail Friday. “These are people who wanted to run for the Conservative Party. They knew the program was legal. They are speaking out now – a full two years later because they lost.”

Yes, not only are the Liberals, the CBC, the media at large, and Elections Canada all engaged in a conspiracy against the Cons, those Conservative candidates who have a conscience and who think this program was wrong are now just sore losers.

I wouldnt be surprised to hear the term “back-stabber” or “traitors” describing the Conservative candidates coming next from either the Blogging Tories or Ryan or Pierre “So What?” Poilievre.

(H/T to Impolitical)

[email protected]:15pm: Danielle has a nice summary on this scandal – a fitting end to the Conservatives “Justice Week”, as well as a summary of some of  the blogging stories this past week done on the in-and-out scandal from the Liberal blogosphere.

The Liberals plot revealed

This originally got shown first at CalgaryGrit, but I think it’s so good that I’m going to reproduce it over here to show that the secret plans of the Liberals to undermine the Conservative Government has been exposed, and how they’re doing it.

I expect to see Pierre Poilievre breathlessly release this at the next news conference he holds exposing this “conspiracy”.

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