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.
The second factor was the absence of documentary evidence that would assist in establishing the existence of a contractual agreement by any of the participating candidates with the supplier retail media. The third factor was representations of party officials that all arrangements for the purchase were made by the party and that invoices were sent to the party. The fourth factor was particulars of the arrangements whereby invoices were provided to candidates by the party rather than by retail media as the supplier and the fact that moneys were transferred by Conservative Fund Canada, which maintained control of the money throughout the process by means of prearranged bank wire transfer instructions. Finally, the fifth factor was the important and unexplained discrepancies in the amounts charged to various candidates for the same advertising, so the expense claimed by each candidate did not reflect the commercial value—which we discussed before—of the ad placement.
Additionally, he dealt directly with the suggestion that other parties had done likewise.
It has been said that transactions of this kind are usual and engaged in by all registered parties and their candidates. I did ask Elections Canada staff to review the returns of all the major registered parties and their candidates in both the 38th and 39th general elections. Elections Canada has not identified any other transaction or group of transactions in which all of the factors I mentioned earlier were at play.