By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - 0 Comments
The Conservatives have dropped their appeal of a federal court ruling in the in-and-out affair.
The Conservative Party of Canada has repaid taxpayers $230,198 for the “in-and-out” election financing dispute and dropped its appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada … Elections Canada refused to issue the more than $800,000 in total rebates to the Conservative Party and the party then sued to get the money.
They won the case in a lower court ruling, but in early 2011, the federal Court of Appeal unanimously overturned that ruling, saying Elections Canada had every right to deny the expenses.
Four months ago, in a separate proceeding, the Conservative party pleaded guilty to violating the Elections Act.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 10:33 AM - 0 Comments
Add the ‘in and out’ scheme of defrauding spending limits to the phoney phone calls in 18 or more ridings, and you might question CPC’s 39%
When the Con’s said they’d be different from the Libs, some people thought they meant they’d be MORE ethical, not less.
I for one, wish the Conservatives would fix Health care, not elections. These are seriously bad people
Yup. Fix Health Care Not Elections. That’s my new bumper sticker. In fact replace ‘Health Care’ with your choice…’Pensions?’
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 11:01 AM - 6 Comments
New Democrat MP Mathieu Ravignat asked yesterday whether the government would be pursuing the Conservative Party of Canada for the rebates it received as part of the In-and-Out scheme. Pierre Poilievre answered for the government.
Mr. Speaker, I thought the honourable member was rising today to apologize on behalf of the NDP. Just last week the NDP had to admit that it broke the Canadian election law, that it violated the law in attempting to use the power of the political donation tax credit in order to fund a third party organization. It did so in violation of the law. It has now had to admit it. On this side of the House, every single Conservative accused of wrongdoing has now been cleared. We are very pleased with the outcome. We will continue to stand by the fact that we followed all the rules.
In the case of the NDP’s violation—offering the party as a conduit for donations to the Broadbent Institute in Jack Layton’s memory—the commissioner of Elections Canada has confirmed that all improper donations were returned by the party.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 11:32 AM - 2 Comments
Glen McGregor wonders if the Conservatives will refund the $187,298 they were reimbursed as a result of the In-and-Out scheme.
Elections Canada says none of the 17 have returned their reimbursements. Asked if it will take steps to recover the money, Elections Canada spokesperson Diane Benson said, “We would follow the normal administrative process for the recovery of any debt owed to the Crown.”
Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey responded in an email, ”The question of reimbursements will be dealt with in the ongoing civil proceedings.” By that, he means the case the Tories brought against Elections Canada, which will be heard in the Supreme Court of Canada.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 1:17 PM - 70 Comments
(This post last updated at 8:24pm.)
Both the Ottawa Citizen and CTV are reporting word of a settlement in the in-and-out case, possibly in relation to the charges against four Conservative party officials. Full history of the in-and-out controversy here.
Update 1:18pm. Canadian Press has details.
The party is set to agree to what a caucus source called “administrative imperfection” for the way it handled advertising spending during the 2006 federal election. As a result, sources say charges against four senior Conservative officials – including two senators – for breaking the Elections Act are being dropped.
Update 1:24pm. Glen McGregor’s FAQ is probably the easiest way to get up to speed. Last March, the House passed a motion deeming the financing scheme to be “an act of electoral fraud.” Three years ago, chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand explained his view in detail before a parliamentary committee.
Update 2:46pm. The Globe confirms.
In return, the Conservative Party of Canada and its fundraising arm are pleading guilty to lesser charges that characterize what took place as a mere error instead of intentional misconduct. At the same time, the charges against four Conservative officials – two sitting senators – are being dropped.
CTV reports the party has been fined $50,000. The Supreme Court will still apparently hear the separate dispute between the Conservative party and Elections Canada.
Update 3:24pm. A statement from Elections Canada. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 31, 2011 at 10:45 AM - 25 Comments
Michael Ignatieff talks to the Star.
Upbeat and relaxed in the early days of the election contest, Ignatieff says the campaign is a watershed for Canadians. “It’s about what kind of politics we’re going to have in this country,” he said. Will it be the “politics of American-style personal destruction” or something else, he asks. Will Canadians accept “politicians who will literally stop at nothing to stay in power, including shutting down the people’s Parliament,” he asked in a reference to Harper’s decision to avoid the defeat of his government by proroguing Parliament. Will Canadians accept a government that “shuts off the tap on Access to Information?” And “what about election fraud?” he said in a reference to the senior Conservatives charged by Elections Canada for alleged overspending in the 2006 campaign.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 11, 2011 at 11:22 AM - 54 Comments
Last night, by a count of 145-135, the House of Commons passed the following motion.
That this House denounce the conduct of the government, its disregard for democracy and its determination to go to any lengths to advance its partisan interests and impose its regressive ideology, as it did by justifying the Conservative Party’s circumvention of the rules on election spending in the 2005-2006 election campaign, when the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism used public funds to solicit donations to the Conservative Party, when the Party used taxpayers’ money to finance a pre-election campaign under the guise of promoting Canada’s Economic Action Plan, when it changed the wording in government communications to promote itself, when it showed that it is acceptable for a minister to alter a document and make misleading statements to the House, when it refused to provide a parliamentary committee with the costs of its proposals, and when it improperly prorogued Parliament.
By Andrew Coyne - Friday, March 11, 2011 at 6:45 AM - 217 Comments
COYNE: The Tories were gaming the system, but transfers of campaign funds are not illegal
You know, just because they’re talking points doesn’t mean they’re not true.
Ever since the “in and out” affair blew up 3½ years ago, Conservative party officials have maintained a consistent, not to say monotonous line of defence. The transfers of funds from the national party to local riding campaigns, the pooling of riding funds to make “regional media buys,” and the purchase of these from the national party: all are both legal and common across all parties, separately and in combination.
To my knowledge, no one disputes this: Sect. 404 (2.1) of the Canada Elections Act in fact makes explicit provision for such transfers. So all of the breathless, tick-tock coverage—”at 2:32, $20,399 was transferred in; at 2:47, $20,399 was transferred out“—is beside the point. Notwithstanding the titillating name, there is nothing illegal or unusual in such “in and out” transfers.
Rather, Elections Canada’s case that the Conservatives exceeded national spending limits in the 2006 election campaign is based entirely—entirely—on how the transferred funds were dispersed. Specifically, the agency contends that although the 66 participating campaigns agreed to take part in the regional media buys, and although they were invoiced for them and wrote the cheques to pay for them, they did not actually incur these costs: the national party did. How does it know?
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 1:49 PM - 239 Comments
When chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand testified before the ethics committee three years ago, he explained his decision on the Conservative in-and-out transactions as the result of five factors.
There was no single deciding factor leading to my decision. In fact, rather, it was an aggregate of factors that precluded me from being satisfied that this expense was an election expense warranting a reimbursement. In addition to the statement by an official agent to which I have already referred, other statements were made by other official agents or candidates also disclosing a lack of detail and knowledge of the regional media buy expense.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 11:32 AM - 143 Comments
Last evening, by a count of 152-139, the House of Commons passed the following motion.
That, in the opinion of the House, the Conservative Party of Canada’s “in and out” electoral financing scheme was an act of electoral fraud and represents an assault on the democratic principles upon which Parliament and our electoral system are based, and that, further, the House calls upon the Prime Minister to: (a) order the immediate repayment of any and all illegally obtained electoral rebates that were paid out to candidates for the Conservative Party of Canada as a result of the “in and out” fraud; and (b) remove all individuals facing charges for this fraud from any position of responsibility within Government or the Conservative Party of Canada.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 6:34 PM - 222 Comments
The Scene. Mr. Harper’s government, as the government of Canada is now to be known, stands accused of various breaches. Of violating electoral law when it won office. Of withholding information demanded of it by Parliament. Of employing a minister who has misled Parliament. Of employing a minister who has misused government resources for his party’s gain. Of paying an exorbitant amount of money to disappear a woman who once held the title of “integrity commissioner.” And yes, of renaming the federal government in the Prime Minister’s own surname.
And so, of course, the government side this afternoon was as gleeful and aggressive as it has ever been. It roared and cheered and mocked and jeered. It laughed and lashed at its critics, it delighted in itself. It was loud and proud.
Mr. Harper sat and smiled and shared the odd chuckle. He reclined as best he could in his chair and fiddled with the cord of his desk’s earpiece. When he stood to answer the Liberal leader’s charges, he shrugged and sighed. If he was the least bit concerned, a tiny bit chastened, it was impossible to tell.
But, of course, he hardly ever appears daunted by such stuff. Indeed, if there is one thing that defines this Prime Minister it is his unrelenting undauntedness, his undaunting relentlessness. He is a man of the post-shame world. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 1:24 PM - 125 Comments
The CBC looks at how in-and-out impacted public reimbursements.
Another riding that appears to have received some of that money is the Conservative riding association in Hull-Aylmer, Que. That association spent only about $12,000 of its own money in the 2006 election, according to numbers from Elections Canada, but received almost $34,000 in reimbursements because of the “in-and-out” tactic.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 7, 2011 at 6:12 PM - 121 Comments
The Scene. Aside from the obvious, what is the difference between Jason Kenney and Bev Oda?
Two weeks ago, the latter became the subject of various questions related to the ethical standards by which she takes her ministerial responsibilities. And so she sat. And sat. And sat. And sat. And sat some more. And when she did finally stand, she didn’t have much of anything to say.
Last week, the former became the subject of various questions related to the ethical standards by which he takes his ministerial responsibilities. And so, today, he stood and stood and stood and stood some more. Indeed, of the eight questions posed on the matter this afternoon, Mr. Kenney answered (or at least responded to) each and every one.
Perhaps the government took an operational decision to spare Mr. Kenney the sort of mockery that Ms. Oda had endured. Perhaps they have recently revived their commitment to ministerial accountability. Perhaps from now on there’ll be no more hiding of ministers in plain sight.
All of which would certainly go to what the Conservative side is fond of claiming: that it is a government of standards. That it, no matter how loudly the likes of Ralph Goodale protest, regards its responsibilities quite seriously. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 4, 2011 at 2:17 PM - 128 Comments
Glen McGregor answers all your in-and-out questions.
Didn’t the other parties do the same thing?
Not according to the CEOC. The major parties all transfer money back and forth between their national campaign and candidate campaigns, and between candidate campaigns. Some parties’ candidates have also participated in pooled media buys — typically, a group of candidates in nearby ridings buy an ad together and share the costs. The CEOC maintains this is fundamentally different because these candidates legitimately incurred the costs of the ads, whereas the cost of the ads claimed by the Conservatives candidates were incurred by the party.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 4, 2011 at 12:16 PM - 20 Comments
The Canadian Press tallies four Conservative campaigns, including that of current Conservative MP Dave Mackenzie, who declined to participate in the in-and-out scheme.
Independent conservative MP Helena Guergis — who was turfed from the Tory caucus last year over rumours of wrongdoing that were never substantiated — also says her campaign was approached and rejected the plan.”I was asked but I said no. Something in my gut told me no,” Christine Brayford, Guergis’ sister and campaign manager, said in an email.
By macleans.ca - Friday, March 4, 2011 at 11:35 AM - 6 Comments
Mark and Guergis said campaign finance scheme didn’t sit right
Two more former Tory MPs are the latest to come forward saying they were against the Conservative party’s “in-and-out” election financing scheme. Inky Mark, a former Manitoba MP, and Helena Guergis, the former Conservative minister who was fired from caucus, have joined former Quebec Conservative candidate David Marler and MP Dave Mackenzie in distancing themselves from the campaign finance scheme. Mark, who said he was approached by party officials during the 2006 election campaign and asked to deposit thousands of dollars into his campaign chest only to withdraw it later to buy advertising, said it didn’t add up. “I said, ‘why would you give me money and give it back?’ It didn’t make sense,” Mark said. “So I said, ‘No thanks.’” Meanwhile, Guergis’s sister and campaign manager, Christine Brayford, said “something in my gut told me no.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 5:37 PM - 38 Comments
The Scene. To his credit, Pierre Poilievre, the fresh-faced and ambitious young parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, does not take himself too seriously.
“We are building the country,” he sighed in response to a Liberal question this afternoon about the in-and-out affair, “rather than tearing people down.”
Now so long as you have paid even a little attention—or watched even a little television—these last five years, you will understand this to be a hilarious statement. Indeed, so long as you do not believe Mr. Poilievre to be completely delusional, you must regard this statement as an attempt by Mr. Poilievre to make a joke—a knowing wink, a cheeky taunt.
Mind you, the punchline here is not merely that the government side hardly lives up to the genteel principles of respect and manners invoked by Mr. Poilievre. Rather, the joke here is that it’s all a joke. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 3:10 PM - 13 Comments
“She does not work on audits,” says spokesperson
The Conservative party’s former chief financial officer, charged last week in the “in-and-out” election spending scheme, now holds a job in the office of the auditor general of Canada. Susan Kehoe currently serves as secretary of the Canadian Council of Legislative Auditors, an association of federal and provincial auditors which operates out of the federal auditor general’s office. Kehoe could face fines and jail time if she is convicted for Elections Act violations related to advertising purchases in the 2006 campaign. The office says Kehoe is not involved in any review of government expenses.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 12:57 PM - 56 Comments
After shouting out Charlie Sheen on Tuesday, Michael Ignatieff invoked the foremost legal authority on American daytime television yesterday.
And I just say on this in-and-out scandal, the Prime Minister has spent two days defending the indefensible. This is not a minor administrative dispute. This is about a fraud of $800,000 of taxpayers’ money, illegal refunds of $800,000 coming out of the taxpayer’s hide and also going over the election spending limit by one million dollars. So this is not small stuff. And now these guys are saying – the Prime Minister’s saying he’s going to appeal. I don’t who he’s going to appeal to — you know, Judge Judy? I mean, you know, they’ve run out of road.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 7:07 PM - 99 Comments
The Scene. Bev Oda stood this to day to audibly commit various words to the official record. Really, it was the least she could do.
In keeping with the government side’s “operational decision,” John Baird stood to take the first two questions asked of the International Cooperation Minister this afternoon, but then the Liberals asked generally about the functioning of Canada’s development agency. Here Ms. Oda motioned to Mr. Baird that she could take this one and so she stood and mouthed various platitudes.
Then though, Liberal Anita Neville stood with her supplementary, wondering if, while she had the minister’s attention, she might ask some questions specific to the handling of KAIROS. And so she did. And so Ms. Oda apparently felt compelled to stand again. What followed from her had absolutely and precisely nothing to do with the particular issue at hand. But she spoke words. And she did so while standing. And that was apparently more than enough for members of the government side to leap up and applaud her when she’d finished.
Less enthusiastic was the response to another day of questions about how the Conservatives funded their campaign for high office in 2006. Continue…
Have the allegations the Conservatives violated campaign spending limits in 2006 changed your view of the government?
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 1:04 PM - 58 Comments
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 10:36 AM - 39 Comments
From Michael Ignatieff’s scrum with reporters after QP yesterday.
Can I just say something about the Prime Minister’s response to these – my questions about the in-and-out scandal. These guys have been accused of illegal activity. The prosecutor would not launch a prosecution unless there was substantial evidence of illegality. The Prime Minister gets up in the House and says, oh, it’s a kind of little administrative difficulty, right? It’s an administrative difficulty. I mean this guy will try and say anything. He’s like the Charlie Sheen of Canadian democracy. I mean it’s ridiculous.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 9:01 AM - 70 Comments
Jennifer Ditchburn talks to the Conservative candidate who refused to go along with the party’s in-and-out financing.
“It always seemed to me that the in-and-out was irregular and illegal,” Marler said in an interview.”It is gratifying to note that the Federal Court (of Appeal) has come to the same opinion, which always seemed to me to be obvious. I think they’re doing the right thing by prosecuting the alleged offenders.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 6:47 PM - 57 Comments
The Scene. The public undermining of the Honourable Beverley J. Oda’s professional standing continues at a methodical pace.
The opposition side is now engaged in unabashed mockery for the still-seated minister. “How can she remain in her position as minister when, by her silence, she refuses to be accountable to Parliament?” asked Liberal Hedy Fry after quoting from the Prime Minister’s own guidelines on ministerial accountability.
John Baird stood to take this one and so Ms. Fry upped the rhetorical ante. “The Minister of International Cooperation sits behind the Prime Minister, dutifully, day after day and is not allowed to answer,” she observed. “Is it this Prime Minister’s position that women in his cabinet should only be seen and not heard?”
This was enough to receive an admonishment from Mr. Baird, but not enough to get Ms. Oda on her feet. The Liberals pursued her twice more, but Mr. Baird stood for those as well. The Liberals jeered and yelled. They chanted “Let her speak” and thumped their desks. Ms. Oda sat quietly. Mr. Baird turned at one point to acknowledge her presence directly as he commended her “great leadership.” This earned her an ovation from the Conservative side and a pat on the back from Sylvie Boucher seated behind her.
On some antiquated principle of parliamentary democracy and representative government, the Liberals are probably correct to wonder why the minister does not stand in her place to respond to opposition queries and condemnations during the time allotted each day for the House to hear such things. But implicit in that is the assumption that her standing will serve some purpose beyond confirming her ability to perform the physical act itself. Continue…