In-and-Out is in?

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.”