In-and-Out is in?

by Aaron Wherry

A Federal Court judge rules in favour of the Conservative side, with a caveat of sorts.

Elections Canada had contended that the Conservatives effectively skated around the party’s $18.3 million spending limit by channeling the cost of the ads through its candidates’ campaigns, which have their own spending limits. There was no evidence, the electoral agency argued, that the expenses were legitimately incurred by the candidates.

In a ruling released Monday, Justice Luc Martineau disagreed, saying the two candidates did incur the expenses. He ordered Mayrand to approve the claims. Martineau said, however, that the decision does not necessarily bear on an investigation of the ad buying program currently being conducted by the Commissioner of Canada Elections, William Corbett.

“There is a fundamental distinction between legality and legitimacy,” Martineau wrote. “As far as the overall legitimacy of the (regional-media buy) program is concerned, this is a debatable issue, which is better left for public commentary and debate by all interested persons outside the courts.”




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In-and-Out is in?

  1. Oh, we knew that was going to happen,
    but what about those Lib leadership contenders missing their last chance deadline with EC ?

  2. “There is a fundamental distinction between legality and legitimacy,” Martineau wrote. “As far as the overall legitimacy of the (regional-media buy) program is concerned, this is a debatable issue, which is better left for public commentary and debate by all interested persons outside the courts.”

    Replace "program" with any number of things – prorogation, election call, redaction, and policy all come to mind – and this statement could be just as well applied to anything going on around Parliament today.

      • There's one big difference between your example and the ones provided by Lynn. Guess what it is?

        • Proper spelling?

          • ahh…yes that is true. Too much coffee

        • I hope VC answers soon….

  3. In other words, it is a matter of policy that should be determined by parliament, not the arbitrary whims of the Chief Electoral Officer trying to change the rules after the fact. No doubt apologies will now come forth from all the opposition parties and columnists who had accused the Tories, with so much certainty, of 'fraud".

  4. In other words, legally speaking, we gave the CPC an inch.

    • Which sets the precedence a mile wide next time.

  5. “There is a fundamental distinction between legality and legitimacy,” Martineau wrote. “As far as the overall legitimacy of the (regional-media buy) program is concerned, this is a debatable issue, which is better left for public commentary and debate by all interested persons outside the courts.”

    Now if only we had a forum for representatives of the people to come to gether to debate the legitimacy of this practice!

    A "parliament", perhaps.

    One can only dream.

  6. And if only we had a government that would abide by the motions of that forum of representatives of the people then we might think it was worth it to have the debate.

    • There was no debate,
      just media footage of the raid on CPC headquarters.

  7. Good job Aaron. Way to find the one tiny bit of faint hope to cling to in this story.

    • And now she has read the whole thing and regrets calling it sweeping but, according to her twitter fed, won't change the headline 'lest people *cough* incapabable of understanding nuance go crazy (crazier).

    • Yes, as joshua points out, Kady spent extra effort to find an "asterisk".

      • Gotta hate it when a representative of the media actually looks to find all the facts in a matter, eh, fanboy?

        • Hey, the witless moron is here.

          • One tiny little meaningless fact that points out your entire talking point line of "See! Vindicated!" is false..

            Yeah, that must suck when people single out those types of facts.

          • The only suck around here is you, sucking wind.

  8. Another faux-scandal bites the dust. Is anyone noticing a pattern here the last few years – start with Headline : evil meanie stevie did something terrible! – wait a few years after digging thoroughly through everything .. resultset = another attempt by oppostion parties to throw mud on the cpc .. yet again a classic example. From allegations of bribing dead MP's, covering up schreiber dollars, did he or did he not eat the wafer, stevie sends body bags to first nations .. etc etc etc – same same o – result always the same -

  9. Conservative scammers make me ill. And prorogation should result in reduced paycheques for the cowards. All these scammers want is more power and more money.

  10. "From allegations of bribing dead MP's, covering up schreiber dollars, did he or did he not eat the wafer, stevie sends body bags to first nations .. etc etc etc "

    Except: the Conservatives did offer "financial considerations" for Cadman's vote, Mulroney did try to cover up taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in paper envelopes for no work, the Liberals rebuked the media for alleging the wafer story, Stevie did send an unusually high number of body bags to first nations, etc etc etc.

    • Oh Ted, the public health nurse, for the reserve, ORDERED the body bags…
      keep up here, will yah

      • Take it up with Harper. He's the one who said on tape that he was aware of an offer being made.

      • Harper admitted "financial considerations" were being offered to Cadman in order to get him to vote with the opposition Conservatives. There is no denying that fact. Harper has never explained what he meant by "financial considerations".

  11. Wow. One judge who didn't get the memo.

    Seriously, the letter of the law was followed. Other parties have done similar transfers. The difference in this was the scale, which only the CPC had the money, time and organization to pull off.

    Whose idea was it to have an 8-week campaign in 2005-06 anyway? Oh yeah.

    Democratic rights accrue to parties and candidates as well as voters. That means local candidates decide what content to put in their local ads — not Elections Canada bureaucrats.

    If other parties want one global advertising spending limit for national plus ridings, then bring forward the legislation. I hear the Libs are having a "thinkers" conference soon.

    • Why on earth do democratic rights accure to parties? Weren't we told the other day that they're not people?

      Oh wait.. that only applies when it's in Harper's favor.. right. Forgot that part.

    • "Whose idea was it to have an 8-week campaign in 2005-06 anyway? Oh yeah. "

      Ah yes. How well I remember Paul Martin's reason for making it 8 weeks instead of 6–the more voters see of Harper, the more they will dislike him !

      How did that work out for ya, Paul ?

      And now, Saint Donolo is spinning a similar narrative about why the Libs won't force an early election–let Harper be himself, let him self-destruct, blah blah.

      • or, better yet, to let the "real" Iggy come out for the upteenth time. lol

    • "Seriously, the letter of the law was followed."

      Yeah, that's pretty obvious, paid shill.

      • I'm not paid, Anon. But if you want to get paid, you might have to give up your anonymity.

        • So you are a shill?

          • I guess that's in the eye of the reader. But I'm definitely not paid.

  12. Right,
    this is Wherry's token post on the matter. Msm will have much more 'important' issues to report.
    Remebering of course all the cameras attending the RAID of the CPC headquarters,
    which wa very important, eh..

  13. Yah,
    one word to that,
    ADSCAM

    • So.. when does your outrage expire, wilson? Just curious about how many decades it'll be before you start looking at the actions of *this* government?

      • Ask him about the NEP.

      • So.. when does your outrage expire, wilson?

        Around 2:00 PM Mountain Time, otherwise known as "The Cocktail Hour."

    • The Liberal sponsorship adscam, or the impending Tory government media-buy adscam?

  14. Per voter subsidies also accrue to the national party. But that would be demanding consistency wouldnt it?

    So boo hoo hoo, no conservatives go to jail. If you really think Canadians had this prioritized the way the opposition did you would get the results the opposition has got to date.

    the judge is correct, it is about legitimacy, but guess who gets to judge that….the voter…..

    • Nothing wrong with money going to the national party. However, we have campaign financing limits in place for a reason. Ideally so that money doesn't hold more power in our society than ideas.

      • Yes I agree…..and nobody contributed more than their limit……well maybe they did with the Liberal leadershiip contenders who now have really large loans that are going to be deemed to be contributions….illegal contributions based on the size of them.

        Funny, you dont see the same coverage of that, more troubling issue do you? Wonder why?

        • Oh christ, this whine of the "MSM has a Liberal Bias" meme is pathetic. I realize it shields you from actually having to confront that those you support are generally corrupt and/or incompetent, but it really starts to tire after a while.

          Going from the bottom up:
          Why? Because the leadership loans are an internal leadership campaign. Not a general election. So the only people who would be interested would be those who are simply looking for any whiff of scandal from the Liberal party. Pretty limited audience.

          • Leadership loans versus general election….ulm the LAW applies to both as the should. both can yield undue influence. We are talking about the law here are't we

            Internal…ahh so contributing to internal party poilitics yields no influence issues? thats the whole point of election financing laws. All based on the premise that outsized contributions yield outsized inlfuence. Once again, I repeat the law applies to both and the threat, such as it is, is similar in both cases.

            So now its the Conservatives tricked this law into place….please…..

            As for Liberal bias, all columnists and media fight their biases. Some do it better than others….but if you look at the all the ink, real and digital, spilled on the In and Out issue versus discussion of a the large loans that will now be deemed contributions you are left with an gaping maw of difference. All I ask is that people who deemed one to be of such national importance apply the same standards to the other. In the case just decided, it was deemed legal. In the case peding, well, it seems pretty clear the leadership contenders are on the wrong side of the law.

          • And again, a general campaign is simply more important than an internal leadership campaign. And your opinion on the point of election financing laws is completely nonsensical. You're talking bribery, of which there are a host of laws against. Campaign financing laws are in place so that the candidates are all participating on a (more or less) even playing field, thus allowing the competition to be one of ideas, and not simply who can shout(buy) the most.

            And I didn't say they tricked it into place, I said they changed the rules on the Liberal leadership contenders after those contenders had already run their leadership campaign under the old rules. Personally, I think that the law of non-retroactivity ought to apply here and that any fundraising *for that specific campaign* should be allowed to follow the laws at the time of the campaign, not the newer, far more restrictive laws that the Conservatives confidence voted into place afteward.

            All you ask is that people accept your view that two things which are in no way equal importance be treated as if they were.

          • Leaving leadership campaigns out of it means there is an enormous hole. What were all the allegations about under Mulroneys run against Clark. That this money allegedly bought influence. It was the right thing to do, and keeps things in perspective. What if the leadership campaigns yielded HUGE surpluses. Is that not a way of financing the party, or the individual. remember moeny doesnt get returned to contributos, it isnt like stock ownership. This is why they were brought under the aegis of electoral financing, because they deal with the same problem, money and influence.

            Now, your argument that the law was retroactive might carry weight in court. We will see, and they have to make the argument yet. If the court finds that to be the case then fine, but right now people seem to be hoping the whole thing goes away.

          • "so contributing to internal party poilitics yields no influence issues? thats the whole point of election financing laws. All based on the premise that outsized contributions yield outsized inlfuence. "

            How about the major donors to Harper's leadership campaign? Harper refuses to tell us and keeps them secret. Where is the concern about their outsized influence? Unlike the hapless former leadership candidates who can't raise enough funds, we don't even know who Harper's big donors were and what kind of influence they are wielding today.

            Or how about McKay's leadership debts, approximately $400,000? That is more than any of the Liberal leadership candidates owe. Who paid those off? Who else is wielding "oversized influence" over the government? Again, the Conservatives refuse to say.

            And far worse because they are in government, holding important positions.

          • Oh brother. Are you not referring to donations given BEFORE this party even existed, and under laws in which donations were given under the assumption of privacy?

            Seriously, is this all you guys have on Harper? I guess it is.

          • Glad you agree with me on the importance of those laws being implemented.

    • Did any of you people read the actual judgment? This was not a hearing on the legality of the Conservatives' actions. This was a suit brought by two Conservative official agents to overturn the discretionary decision of the Chief Electoral Officer to deny their rebate of that portion of their "local" expenditures which he deemed were not local in nature. This was a case "against" Elections Canada, and not a decision on the case "against" the Tories.

      The larger issue is by no means settled, although the findings of fact in this judgment seem to bode well for the Tories in the long run.

      • Seems to more than bode well. The court said the expenses were incurred from his legal standpoint.

        Now, his point about elections Canada cuts more to the issue of how things get regulated in this country. More principle than rule based. So elections Canada could come back and say, IN FUTURE, we dont want to allow this kind of thing…admisnistrative judgement essentially. That happens all the time in any regulated business, the regulator rules on new wrinkles going forward…past actions or ruling on past actions often go to court. And obviously admistrative rulings get challenged in court as well.

        But it is a pretty solid legal win. You would have to find circumstances where the other 67 cases couldnt produce a similar amount and type of documentation for the court to rule they didnt incur the expenses. At this stage smart prosecutors know they cant win and back off. The regulator may still say, that IN FUTURE we dont want this.

        Amazing they have likely spent well in excess of the 1.8 million in question here….but there is a "principle" involved.

        • "The court said the expenses were incurred…" Yes. What was at issue here was whether or not the official agents (i.e. the local candidates) had in fact incurred the expenditures.

          Whether those expenditures were legal or not isn't really addressed in this decision. That (one assumes) is where the Commissioner's investigation is going.

          Also unanswered in this decision (although mentioned) is the allocation of costs for regional media buys. The facts described in the Halifax/Dartmouth scenario, which are discussed in this decision, are also ample grounds for the Commissioner to push ahead.

          • It is difficult to imagine them not being legal expenses. The issue around in and out was that the local campaign didnt really incur the expenses. I agree the next question is whether or not the expenses were legal, an example might be a personal phone calls to relatives in China being disallowed (example only). But it is difficult to see how expenses incurred for election advertising are now deemed to be not allowd. But who knows, there can be all kinds of exceptions, exemptions and intepretations that lead to disallowance of line item expenditures.

            You would think the prosecutors or regulators will be asking the question of "whats the point", one assumes they have one beyond ego and turf.

          • Where three candidates all received a regional ad buy that was valued at x, yet they were all charged a different amount, subject to their remaining expenditure limits, it would be a clear cut example of a national to riding transfer (generally legal) actually being used to subsidize between ridings (generally not legal). That question remains subject to interpretation, is not addressed in this judgment, and is likely to be the foundation of any further actions by the Commissioner, if there are any.

  15. "Technically legal".

    Well, that meets Stephen Harper's high standards.

    • "Senior government officials running the federal government's advertising and sponsorship contracts in Quebec, as well as five Crown corporations – the RCMP, Via Rail, Canada Post, the Business Development Bank of Canada and the Old Port of Montreal – wasted money and showed disregard for rules, mishandling millions of dollars since 1995.

      More than $100 million was paid to various communications agencies in the form of fees and commissions, Fraser found. In most cases the agencies did little more than hand over the cheques."

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/auditorgeneral/

      It is a better standard than the one his predecessor followed.

    • "Senior government officials running the federal government's advertising and sponsorship contracts in Quebec, as well as five Crown corporations – the RCMP, Via Rail, Canada Post, the Business Development Bank of Canada and the Old Port of Montreal – wasted money and showed disregard for rules, mishandling millions of dollars since 1995.

      More than $100 million was paid to various communications agencies in the form of fees and commissions, Fraser found. In most cases the agencies did little more than hand over the cheques."

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/auditorgeneral/

      It is a better standard than the one his predecessor followed.

      • “As you know, as part of our economic action plan, one of the things we've of course done is to step up government advertising. One of the purposes of that has been to support media outlets during the recession that have been particularly hard-hit.” – Jean Chretien. No, Paul Martin. No, Pierre Trudeau. No… Stephen Harper.

      • You're like a broken record – any time you see discussion of Stephen Harper's failings, you start talking about Chretien.

        It's sad, really. I have yet to see you condemn Harper's most indefensible actions, you're just too busy telling us that it's ok for Harper because Chretien's administration had scandals too.

  16. Other than than you would appear with disagree with my addition to the the list?

  17. Hey, look folks! Someone has actually read the decision!

    No go on and get out of here, Thwim. There is no call for facts in a partisan debate.

    • Well, yes, the court said it would not rule on the Commissioner's activities, nor make any ruling as to whether the Conservative Party had broken any law. That, of course, is because the court's jurisdiction was limited to the issues in front of it, which were the appliactions for judicial review. Of course it couldn't rule on, or comment on, matters that were not before it or, in the case of the Commissioners strangely lengthy process, matters that may never actually occur.

      Still, the judgment is a pretty clear indication of what the law actually is – that parties are allowed to give money to candidates and candidates are allowed, legitimately, to spend that money on national advertising buys. Given those findings it seems hard to think of any justification for Elections Canada or the Commissioner to continue to waste any time on this matter.

      • You're absolutely right, those are allowed. The question that's being raised in the Commissioner's investigation is if that actually happened, or if the Party just said it happened and simply used the candidate's names to get around the issue.

        Admitted, this won't be a problem in future because the Conservative Party now includes in its boilerplate candidate authorization language that the candidate authorizes all transfers from the Party to the Candidate to be used to advertise the Party.

        • Well, in that case there may be one instance where the money would have to be re-allocated. But the whole thing seems a bit overblown doesn't it. Of course everyone is trying to maximize their use of the limited (compared to US campaigns) funds available. This was an "aggressive" intepretation of the legislation but it appears to have been a correct one. Certainly the whole "in and out scandal" seems to be nothing more than an argument about accounting procedures – and the Tory party appears to have been correct all along.

          Why, by the way, is it taking the Commissioner so long to come to a decision on this? How many elections have to pass by before the whole exercise becomes simply moot? Or was he waiting for the federal court decision to giive him a reason to simply drop the matter? In any case, a delay of over two years is simply too long for any effective oversight role in such matters.

          • I debate whether the Tory party was correct. I like that you put aggressive in quotes, however. Usually the word we use for trying to be "aggressive" in their interpretatation of the legislation is weaselly. Hell, it's these kind of technical interpretations that usually have conservative supporters up in arms. So if I was surprised by hypocrisy in conservatives, I would have been terribly surprised by this case.

            Personally, I hate in and out because I hate that the national party has more importance than the individual candidate in our elections and this is just a furtherance of that. But I'll agree, legally, I don't see it as a huge issue other than the simple matter that Harper campaigned specifically on his party being different and not governing in this type of manner.

            The offense, for me, isn't so much in the act as in the attitude it portrays. At least for Adscam the Liberals started their own inquiry, and didn't have to be dragged kicking and screaming into court.

          • Wasn't it the Tories who brought In-And-Out to court, and wasn't it Liberals who were dragged to court and convicted of actual crimes?

            Funny how some people can turn any news into partisan ammunition.

          • Hmm.. let's see.. Tories took Elections Canada to court to get money out of the Canadian Public.
            Liberals put an inquiry on themselves and determined that some individuals who'd been working for them needed to be taken to court to get money back for the Canadian Public.

            Yeah, that's totally what you said… oh wait.

          • lol, you can spin this to partisan advantage any way you want. But I suggest you're going to have to come up with a LOT better if you're ever going to put a real dent into Harper's armour.

          • So you're rebuttal of immoral actions is, "Well.. people probably aren't going to punish it anyway."

            Typical conservative viewpoint. If you don't get punished, it must have been okay, right?

            I take it then you're in favor of Shawinigate, then? It certainly didn't put a dent in Chretien's armor.

  18. My favourite part of the judgment reads as follows:

    "…there is a concurrent criminal investigation underway that might result in charges under the Act being laid against the Party, the Fund or individuals…"

    Indeed.

    • Wow, the witch hunt never ends for some, does it?

      • Just because you have a decision saying that yes, the witch bought her own broom, doesn't really get to the matter of whether or not she's a witch.

  19. The ruling is rather open and shut. Yet, somehow, Wherry manages to find a "caveat" and O'Malley searches long and hard enough to find an "asterisk".

  20. Ask wilson about the NEP.

    • Yes Canadian politics is subject to elephantine memories. Add Avro Arrow to that list…

      • I'm still pissed about the Boer War!

  21. You mean that yet another egg that the Harper bashers and haters used to constantly besiege the government with has been proven to be a dud?

    The government is constantly being smeared, then the same smear artists howl in protest when the same government dares to defend itself, or fight back, with facts and truth.

    How many of these battles has Harper won now? But that won't stop the egg-throwing. You can count on that.

    • How many battles has he won? If you're talking about court cases dealing with election law, he's still batting well below .500

      • As far as I can tell, he's won every single one of them. He's been constantly accused of one scandal or another, and not one of them has been proven to be anything more than a hyped up controversy.

        Remember how Maxine Bernier's girlfriend's book was supposed to be a sensational embarrassment for the government? Bernier won re-election in his own riding by an overwhelming margin.

        As for the court cases, you're more than welcome to post specifics at any time. Nevertheless, none of them have put a legitimate dent in Harper, imo, except in the view of people who keep hyping up the accusations in the first place.

        • And the MacKay family legacy lived on in Central Nova despite Peter's daddy's faulty memory. Name/Brand loyalty is a funny thing, is it not?

  22. There's yet another point (yeah I know) that I want to make on this.

    Another accusation against the Tories is that they engage in witch hunts against bureaucrats opposed to them.

    I've always wondered why they don't have the right to defend themselves against some pretty serious charges from these so-called bureaucrats, and I suppose that this court decision vindicates the Harper government on this front, too.

    People want to use their positions to lob grenades against the government. So, not sure why they get all in a huff when the grenade ends up being thrown back.

    Oh yeah, as I've also said before, critics want Harper to simply bend over and take it. I, for one, am someone who's glad he doesn't, and that he gives Canadians a strong alternative that isn't liberal or leftist.

    • There's a difference between defending yourself against an accusation based on the merits of the accusation, and defending yourself against an accusation by returning fire with such glowing gems as "Liberal appointee", or someone who "never set foot outside the line" as if that somehow makes them always wrong.

      I don't expect the Tories to sit back and take it, but they're the government. If they want accountability so badly, I think they should lead by example.

      • Come on, we all know how these accusations work. Someone accuses you of beating your wife, and no denial in the world is going to stick. Often, to play defense, you have to go on offense. It drives Harper bashers crazy, but maybe that's not a bad thing in a democracy where more than one party or ideology should have influence.

        • In 2005/2006, the Conservatives ran on a platform of Stand Up for Canada. It had some good principles and priorities, not the least of which was government accountability. We're not the Liberals, they claimed.

          And now, everything that goes wrong in their government – whether legitimate fodder for scandal or not – is somehow justifiable because the Liberals did it first, as if the 2003 Liberals were some beacon of accountability light. Or, it's justifiable because the person accusing them is an uninformed plant. Eventually, those excuses get old, and all the credit that they had in the bank after the 2006 election runs out.

          There's a cycle of poor governance that's being repeated here, and it's becoming ever more clear that Canadians are getting sick of it. I really think we would be in the same place, had the Tories been in power for 13 years, to be replaced by the Liberals in 2006.

          • But in this case they simply followed the rules, or their interpretation of them (which appears to have been correct) and publicly reported everything – as required. How is that not being accountable. This is far from brown envelopes stuffed with cash being left in restaurants, or phony invoices for work that was never done.

            This is simply an argument over the interpretation of very complex accounting rules. Not poor governance at all (at least not from the Tories).

          • And who does one's "interpretation" of the rules invariably end up favouring?

          • It depends on whether you are right or not. It is not unusual for people, companies, organizations or whatever to interpret statutes in a way they think will benefit them. That happens in zoning laws, the income tax act, the elections act or virtually any law you can think of . If those interpretations are wrong the party that advanced the incorrect interpretation pays the price. If they are right and the government thinks the issue is impportant enough, the legislation is changed.

            In any case, its a pretty ordinary process. The hysteria over the fact the Tories had a difference of opinion over an accounting rule in a compliicated statute is a little over the top.

          • I'd argue that "interpretations" almost always favour the interests of those making them. High profile cases are made all the time to test these limits. Strip away the "hysteria" and there are legitimate questions that have been asked in this case, some of which have yet to be answered.

  23. What's remarkable about this affair is how similiar it is to all the other "scandals" du jour.

    At the end of the day it was a technical issue as to whether local ridings had to change up their message or could keep the national one. Nothing was made up, or fabricated. Funds were not "stolen". Everything was out in the open and the CPC openly took a position which was ultimately found to be correct.

  24. But the passage of time has the effect of lifting the partisan fog, and more precisely, the desire of the out-of-power partisans and their abettors in the media – to hype everything as the next great travesty.

    Consider how big a deal this was when it was the scandal du jour. Now, it's just a decision, with a post or two and a shrug.

    Now we're onto something new, and really, really big this time!! Which is prisonergate….er no I mean proroguegate!

    All the while the Liberal party is being lulled into believing that power comes not from sound conviction and consistent well thought out policy,

    but from one "scandal" that sits just around the very next corner.

    • Thanks Dickens

    • I see a pattern of governance that is repeating itself across political stripes, and I don't like it. The guys in power right now are bearing the brunt end of it, because let's face it, they're in power. It's their responsibility to lead in the name of peace, order, and good government.

      I want a government that acts in the interests of Canada and Canadians, and is forthright with us when something goes wrong. A government that demonstrates class, tact, and discretion at every turn – not just where it is convenient to do so – and that responds to criticisms in the respectful way in which it wants to be treated. I want a government that responds to questions as fully as it is able, guided by a law crafted by reason and honed by experience.

      And failing that, I want a government that makes every genuine effort to try to achieve those goals.

      I do not have confidence that this government is acting in the best interests of Canadians, and what's worse, I am not confident in our institutions' abilities to hold them to account. So what is left?

      Comment boards.

  25. Clearly, you refuse to.

    • I know how to read this: "In a ruling released Monday, Justice Luc Martineau disagreed, saying the two candidates did incur the expenses"

  26. Turns out all those details in the act about riding and national expenses are just there to fill space.

    This country is getting to be very very embarrassing.

    • Sigh. It's always been my interpretation that the local riding can choose what advertising they want. And, if they want national advertising, and think it'll work to get their candidate elected, then so be it. If not, run more localized content. Geez.

      • …my point being that the ability to transfer cash and allocate expenses at will renders the differentiation of the two cost centers meaningless.

        geez

  27. So the scandal is about the CPC using their own money to buy their own ads, and then get reimbursed by elections Canada after following the letter of the law the liberal party wrote. So what is the problem? The CPC has not stolen money, they used existing laws to their advantage.

    • Rolf: Next we will hear the left saying that the least they could have done was donate some money to the welfare of the Afghan detainee so he could immigrate to Canada and represent a Liberal riding and bear witness to the torture our troops committed by turning him over to his own people and he was hit with a shoe..They will all be marching in the streets on Jan 23 and myself and some of my friends expect to go out and "jeer" them on.

  28. The Federal Court ruling today dodged the issue of the legality of the Conservatives' 2006 federal election ad spending scheme issue even more than Aaron hints at, as the ruling went in favour of the candidates only because the basis of the "balance of convenience" principle means that they should be reimbursed for their full expenses now because the legality of the scheme is yet to be determined.

    So, in order to have the issue of the legality of the scheme ruled upon by the courts, Elections Canada must proceed with a prosecution through the Director of Public Prosecutions, and/or an appeal of today's ruling to the Federal Court of Appeal.

    In the meantime, based on this ruling and to save court resources, Elections Canada should reimburse all expenses to all the candidates who participated in the scheme (again, while at the same time prosecuting them all).

    It is in the public interest to have the legality of the scheme ruled upon by the courts so that everyone will know what is legal for the next, and future, federal elections, so hopefully Elections Canada will appeal and/or proceed with a prosecution.

    Hope this helps.

    Duff Conacher, Coordinator
    Democracy Watch

    • "He said the two candidates did incur the expenses as defined by the elections law and ordered Mayrand to approve the claims. "

      What part of that do you not understand?

      • I've never in my life agreed with anything written by Duff Conacher.

        But his comment above is right. Just because the federal court found that the two candidates did incur the expenses, doesn't preclude those expenses from being a violation of the Elections Act. Read the judgment. It's longer than that one quote.

        Basically, until Elections Canada proves that the expenses were illegitimate, they have no right to withhold the candidates refunds for those expenses. That's all that was decided today.

    • Except for the analysis that the court uses that clearly indicates why the interpretation of the Act by Elections Canada is simply wrong. This is not a "balance of convenience" decision. The court has not ruled on the criminality of the actions because the issue was not before it. It did give a clear indication that the general purpose of the Tory plan fell within the scope of what is allowed by the Act.

      Mr. Conacher's argument that people should be prosecuted simply for having a difference of opinion on the interpretation of a complex statute is a pretty good example of why it is hard to find people who want to run for offie these days. People like Mr. Conacher play into the notion that anyone running for office must be presumed to be a prospective criminal and anyone who disagrees with his interpretation of the Elections Act must be venal or a fool.

      Rather than enhancing democracy, as he purports to do, Mr. Conacher seems intent on undermining it.

      • I agree completely. Trying to skew the rules in order to invalidate an election is not a support of democracy, it is an attack on democracy.

      • I agree with your assessment of the general work of Democracy Watch. It's bang on.

        But to suggest that this ruling legitimizes the actions of these Tory candidates and their agents is reading far too much into this decision. If you can suggest a means of getting a judicial interpretation of the Act without laying charges, then by all means. But as I see it, Conacher is correct in this instance. The campaigns involved violated the spirit and quite possibly the letter of the law. It's in the public interest, for a whole host of reasons, to settle that question.

  29. Okay, so the "out" part of the in-and-out scheme was legal. I suspect the "in" part could be found legal as well. It is when the two are put together that a problem arises–sort of like money laundering. No-one would suggest that depositing money into a bank is illegal, right?

    But the in-and-out is still a problem, as referenced here, "Martineau also said the costs claimed by the candidates must be shared evenly between the campaigns that participated, and not based on how much extra room each campaign had bellow its spending cap, as the Tories appeared to have done."

    The real, actual problem as I see it was brought home to me when I misread Mike R's comment above. I read, "It is a national decision for a candidate to contribute to a national buy, rather than run off a bunch of brochures urging people to "Vote for Biggins".

    • Anything that de-emphasizes the role of Members of Parliament to represent the will and the interests of their constituents is going the wrong way. Why everyone so casually dismisses this as a frivolous notion, that "people just vote for the party" and that members mean very little in the grand scheme are obstacles to democracy. Witting or unwitting, they are the mold that feeds upon our Parliament and threaten to reduce it to a pile of mush, with Langevin towering over all.

      • Then don't vote for the candidate who doeesn't give you a brochure on local issues, or doesn't attend all candidate's meetings , or uses whatever other metric you want to decide on who to vote for. But isn't that your privilege now? And do you really need legislation to insist that your neighbour makees his or her decision on the same basis that you do ? Is democracy really enhanced if the Chief Electoral Officer is given the right to censor political ads if they don't serve the purposes he or she (or you) thinks they should?

        • Woolly thinking — arguing legality then ignoring it.

    • If Biggins thinks he'll get your vote by telling you more about himself, that is exactly what he'll do. I don't see how this has anything to do with the 'in and out' affair.

    • If the cost should be shared evenly and these candidates legitimately participated in a mandatory national buy, then maybe Elections Canada should now prosecute all the other candidates who did not contribute to its cost for having received an undeclared contribution or for going over their spending limit because of the fair value of that benefit that has now been established.

  30. So I guess that's it for local campaigns. The ridings will just hand over all their dough at the start of an election in order to buy into one big national campaign. Thanks Mr. Harper, democracy loses again.

    • Yah, those undemocratic COURTS…

    • Well, if parliament doesn't like it, parliament can change the rules. In reality, of course, as every candidate for office knows, people vote overwhelmingly for the party and leader in national elections. It is a rational decision for a candidate to contribute to a national buy, rather than run off a bunch of brochures urging people to "Vote for Biggins". The court has sensibly pointed out that the rules allow what was done and it is not the job of the Chief Elections Officer to second-guess how candidates spend their money.

    • Hardly. This is a procedural affair. Elections Canada held back the refunds from two candidates while the commissioner investigates. The Courts have simply come in and said, "No, you can't do that. You have to give them the money unless and until the investigation finds otherwise. If that happens, THEN they have to return it."

  31. I wonder how long it will take shrill liberal partisans to remove in/out from their Harper is evil screed we read hear at least once a week.

    • and it was always referred to as a "scheme" or a "scandal" too.

    • Probably about as long as it will take Conservatives to remove adscam from their "Liberals are evil" screed.

      • Odd comparison, since the Conservatives have essentially been vindicated of wrongdoing here, while the Liberals were implicated in a public inquiry.

      • adscam actually happened, though. In/out 'scandal' was just in feverish liberal minds.

        • Unproven. All that's been shown is that Elections Canada must refund the candiates as it's said until it's actually proven that the legislation was violated.

          • Clearly you cannot read.

      • Oh, and by the way, I would suggest that, even though this might not be specifically true in your case, generally speaking, I believe it's this kind of thinking that has not served Liberals well at all since they lost power. I don't think they've ever taken genuine responsibility for the many scandals on their watch. So, in return, they've tried to make every single controversy under the Harper government into some kind of scandal.

        And the tragedy has been that the kind of opposition it's led to has not served Canadians well. I think it's been desperate and completely self-serving, and a large part of Harper's continuing success.

        • Well, I was just being flippant, mostly because of the number of individuals here and elsewhere who've attempted to justify every Conservative controversy with "someone else did it first," which is a dangerous attitude toward governance. The point I think the judge was trying to make – and which I most certainly agree with – is that something may be legal, but legality does not morality make. It's up to Canadians to debate and conclude whether what happened was a legitimate campaign, or if it smells of bad fish.

          Certainly not the best comparison, I agree with you. But in terms of living memory? It could well be apt. As for it "happening" – well, both In/Out and Adscam happened, in the most literal sense of the word. The latter was judged not legal.

          On the Liberal 'tude, I don't like it much either – but let's face it, the opposition's job is to oppose, and hold the government to account. They haven't done an excellent job of it, but in making waves about every controversy, they've made some (possibly misguided, and definitely ineffective) attempt at forcing accountability. On the flip side, a government that obfuscates and flings mud at anyone who has something negative to say about them isn't a whole lot better, either. I say the whole lot needs a change.

  32. Well, I think some people may be reading too much into what the judge said. As in many decisions, they outline what issues they deal with, and what issues they don't deal with. In this case, I don't think the judge was suggesting one thing or another as it relates to "legitimacy", just that it's not something he's supposed to consider in a court of law.

    • Well that's just it – he alone can't (and won't, thankfully) pass judgement on legitimacy. But that shouldn't stop we Canucks from having that debate.

      So, until it's deemed otherwise, In/Out shouldn't preclude EC from refunding the candidates in question. But was the In/Out process legitimate? That's still up for debate.

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