ITQ Committee Lookahead – If it’s August, this must be the Ethics committee

A quick rundown of the witness list for the first day of a full week of hearings on the Conservative in-and-out election financing scheme (which ITQ will, of course, be liveblogging from 10am onwards):

Morning session – 10am to noon

Gary Caldwell, former Conservative candidate in Compton-Stanstead, and his official agent, Réjean Fauteux

  • one of just two candidates (out of 61) involved in the in-and-out scheme who refiled his expenses after Elections Canada rejected his original claim
  • told the Toronto Star that the decision had “a certain logic to it” since the money in question went to buy ads that ran on a station that covered “more than just his constituency”
  • now running for the Green Party

Ann Julie Fortier, former Conservative candidate in Berthier Maskinonge, and her official agent Patrick Leone

  • wrote an “extensive” letter to Le Devoir stating that she didn’t agree to take part in the scheme, and according to Liberal MP Dominic Leblanc, has claimed that she “confronted [Harper] personally before the last election, saying that Conservative organizers tried to force her to pass off $28,000 of national expenses as their own”

Joe Goudie, former Conservative candidate in Labrador, NF

  • claims that he had no idea that his campaign had been involved in the scheme until the story broke last fall, and his name showed up in the media
  • was reportedly warned by a party official months earlier that he might be contacted by Elections Canada: “[He was] giving me a heads-up [that] I may be contacted by the media to give a comment on the television advertising fund they had in place, and he asked me not to make any comment.”
  • swore out an affidavit for Elections Canada in which he admitted that he felt “angry” that he had been “dragged into this mess”
  • his official agent, Debbie Singleton, said in a second affidavit that she felt “awful” that the campaign was “used in this fashion,” adding, “If I was the victim of one of those e-mail scams, I wouldn’t feel more duped than I do now for having been innocently caught up in this matter.”

Louise O’Sullivan, former Conservative candidate in Westmount-Ville Marie

  • according to Liberal MP Marlene Jennings, she says that “Conservative organizers never approached her, because she would have immediately seen right through the in and out scheme” (NOTE: I couldn’t find a link to the original media report; if anyone out there has better luck, please add it in the comments) UPDATE: Thanks to KNB, here’s that interview with O’Sullivan, courtesy of the Montreal Gazette, in which she says: “I don’t think they would have done it with me because they knew that I was tied in to municipal (politics). … They would have been afraid of me.”

Afternoon session – 2pm to 4:30pm

Liberato Martelli, former Conservative candidate in Bourassa

  • last August, the Globe and Mail (pay per view only) reported that he described the transactions as “scheming” and says he was “specifically told by Conservative officials that the $14,000 that was deposited in his account was simply going “in and out”

Elizabeth Pagtakhan, former Conservative candidate in Vancouver East, and her official agent (and son) Denny Pagtakhan

  • may have inadvertently sparked the now infamous RCMP raid on Conservative headquarters after Denny admitted to an Elections Canada auditor that he thought the campaign had contributed to TV national advertising: “There was no way we can spend our limit so we were asked by the Party if we can help contribute.”
  • In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, Elizabeth claimed her son had “never spoken to Elections Canada, but according to the search warrant application, it was his comments that led the agency to reexamine Conservative candidate returns from the last election, which revealed the “in and out” transfers between the federal and local campaigns

Bonus round – 5pm

Motion from Scott Reid to force Elections Canada to conduct a full independent investigation into allegations that the agency “leaked” word of the RCMP raid to the media and/or the Liberal Party.

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