Nova Scotia NDP scandal and who knew what when?

Nova Scotia is electing a government next week and you may know that the Nova Scotia NDP has a competitive shot at forming the next government in that province. For those that have been following the race, you’ll know that the Nova Scotia NDP has caused a bit of scandal that is starting to peak as we ramp up to e-day on Tuesday.

The NDP is a funny animal; the party is a national organization unlike other parties. The NDP in each province is the same organization as the NDP federally. This is different from the Conservative party, for example, which is exclusively a federal party. Yes, there are provincial sister organizations, but not branches. This could theoretically allow the NDP the potential to play a bit of a shell game when it comes to finances.

The provincial NDP has been caught in a funding scandal during this election regarding a massive influx of money on a single day of the campaign. The hive-like organization of the NDP spreads down to its union affiliates as well. On April 9th, a resolution at the Mainland Nova Scotia Building and Construction Trades Council was passed to reimburse member unions for their individual $5,000 donations to the NDP. Essentially, this packed the contributions into a $50,000 envelope and this was passed onto NDP party HQ. The scandal here is that what was essentially a $50,000 donation was made to look like 10 individual $5,000 donations (including one from the organizing union). The NDP received the cheques on the week of May 5th. Prior to this, they received a phone call to let them know these donations were coming.

The scandal broke on May 30th when a reporter got wind of what happened and called the NDP party office asking them about the donations. The party claimed to be unaware of the cheques. Two days later, the party felt it necessary to call a press conference to declare that they would return $45,000 worth of donations.

On June 3rd, Ed Wark, the NDP’s official agent, said he knew a sizable amount was coming from the trades council and nine unions after a phone conversation with union president Cordell Cole. This is a direct contradiction of Darrell Dexter’s story on Monday that the NDP just found out about these donations on the weekend. It is simply unbelievable that the NDP received $50,000 in one day after a single phone call from a union president and they claim that no one raised any questions. The Chief Elections Officer said “It appears that the contributions by the individual trade unions were improper because it was not money belonging to the trade unions – that it was being reimbursed by the umbrella organization to the individual unions,”

The next day, PC Premier Macdonald puts pressure on candidates to release full lists of donors. NDP leader Dexter agrees but refused to return the $5,000 from the Mainland Nova Scotia Building and Construction Trades Council. On the 5th, Dexter releases a two and a half page document of donations to the NDP. This apparent demonstration of accountability came a full five days after the scandal broke. The document itself shows nine union contribution (remember that nine other union contributions were returned). This means that the NDP stood to net double in their union contributions column if this scandal had not been brought to light. Further, the list of donations does not declare individual donors.

The scandal for the man who could become the next premier of Nova Scotia on Tuesday is that he and his party feigned ignorance of the massive $50,000 influx of money. In fact, on the day they were unaware of the union donations, they were aware that this was their best day for donations. Also, consider that a union rep called ahead to let the NDP know they’d be receiving the $50,000 envelope. How can Dexter or the NDP claim ignorance of the donations until an outside source was able to ask them tough questions regarding election financing?

Comments

comments

  • http://myblahg.com/ Robert McClelland

    Just to make sure I clearly understand what you're saying, the “scandal” is that the Nova Scotia NDP responded to the questionable donations in the same way all political parties do when something they weren't prepared to answer comes up.

  • Anonymous

    As has been reported by the Chronicle Herald, the NDP became aware that these donations were being REIMBURSED over the weekend in an OFF THE RECORD CONVERSATION with a freelance reportrer. The story only “broke” after the NDP stepped up to the plate and returned the donations.

    Please correct your desparately partisan post.

  • Liz J

    Strange thought process that would lead people to elect an NDP government when their province is in economic turmoil but that is the projected result of the election. Who's left in the equalization scheme to come to the aid of the have-nots? Not Liberal Ontario but Danny Boy from the Rock did tell Dalty he would come to his aid, like he has a choice!!

  • Guardsman

    So would you put this incident up there with the Federal Cconservative’s trouble with Elections Canada?

  • Guardsman

    Interesting take on this situation Steven…woulld this NDP situ rate up their with the fFderal Conservatives trouble with Election canada?

    To Liz…Guess who was in power as NS became the financial basket case it now finds itself in?

    I live in NS but I have lived all over this country over the past 45 year…have voted for Liberal or Conservative but am seriously thinking of voting NDP this time around. I wonder why?

  • Liz J

    Go for it. Best of luck.

  • Ian in NS

    As a Bluenoser I can tell you it's really quite simple. The Tories are clowns, incompetents, and in no way small-c conservative, starting with Rodney MacDonald himself. This election is about a government being tossed out and conservatives sitting out a cycle to punish a party that's abandoned them.

    Will it suck that we'll be stuck with socialists in power for 4 years? Yeah, it will, and I won't rule out leaving the province if it gets too bad. But this is what happens when conservative parties stop being conservative. I bet we'll see it again with the Conservatives in the next federal election.

  • Bec

    Ok, I just have to comment and I am not directing it at any individual comment but collectively.

    I also lived in NS, Hammonds Plains to be specific, for 2 years. We were transferred from Alberta and emotionally, I am still longing for it but financially, OMG!

    To expect anything Conservative that is NOT Progressive, is naive. That will take a generation to undo, if not more. The cost of living, although salaries are less, much higher. The expectations from the government to PAY for everything is ingrained.
    I had a spanky new 'picture' perfect health card but my kids school library was the size of the 'Principals office'. The school busing was paid for by the Govt but half of them were empty.
    The Vehicle Permits were annual and attached to your windshield but then there were 4 officers out stopping cars @ what $ 100.00 an hour?
    SO MUCH BURACRACY and it was SO ingrained.
    I could go on and on. I still miss it though and enjoy talking to all of my kids friends that move West, for a better opportunity. They all agree and understand what they were settling for once they are away from it.

    An NDP govt, is absolutely in tune with a recession in NS, IMO. I hope that this possible indiscretion with funds, gives the province another minority govt. That will hold EVERYONE to account and give no one a blank cheque.

    Nova Scotia, deserves a break but they need responsible, conservative policies to not fritter it away!

  • RayK

    Your post has numerous inaccuracies.

    1) The Nova Scotia NDP does not–as you claim–have “a competitive shot at forming the next government” in Nova Scotia. According to every poll, they are the front runner and the conservative party is in third place.

    2) The federal and provincial New Democratic Parties maintain joint membership, but–as required by federal law–their finances are completely separate. Joint membership does not “allow[] the NDP the potential to play a bit of a shell game when it comes to finances”.

    3) As one of the Chronicle Herald stories to which you linked reports, this story did not break after “a reporter got wind of the donations”. The Nova Scotia NDP publicly announced that they were returning these donations after learning in “an off-the-record conversation with a freelance reporter” that the NSCTC (the Mainland Nova Scotia Construction and Trades Council) planned to reimburse—reimburse!–its affiliated unions for their contributions to the NDP. That would have been a violation of Nova Scotia’s electoral law.

    4) The Nova Scotia NDP never “claimed to be unaware” of these contributions. The Nova Scotia NDP was unaware that the NSCTC planned to reimburse its affiliated unions for the contributions until after the contributions had been given.

    5) You refer to these donations as “cash”. There was no cash involved.

    6) Darrell Dexter never claimed that “the NDP just found out about these donations on the weekend”. As quoted in the Chronicle Herald stories to which you linked, the Nova Scotia NDP has said (a) their official agent knew that several large donations would be coming in from NSCTC unions as early as Thursday, (b) their campaign director learned that the NSCTC intended to reimburse its affiliated unions for these contributions over the weekend and (c) Darrell Dexter learned what had occurred–and that the donations were being returned–on Monday morning. If you have a quote indicating that Darrell Dexter claimed the NDP had no idea these contributions even existed before the weekend, please provide it.

    7) The Nova Scotia NDP released a list of its contributors on Thursday, June 4th–three days after they first made this story public (Monday). This story did not break “five days” earlier as you claim.

    For the sake of honesty, you should correct the record.

  • Cynical observer

    What's that? Unions and the NDP conniving during an election? Union money not being accounted for properly? Say it ain't so! LOL
    Oh, and I'm sure the union members were all asked, and in favour of their dues being used to support a political party in an election right? And I'm sure it is all above board, right? LOL LOL lOL

  • RayK

    “What's that? Unions and the NDP conniving during an election? Union money not being accounted for properly? Say it ain't so! LOL”

    There has no accusation that money was “not being accounted for properly”. The NS NDP returned donations–and made thatthis public–after they learned that the umbrella organized NSCTC was planning to reimburse its affiliated unions for donations they made to the NDP. There has been no accusation that the NDP did anything wrong.

    “Oh, and I'm sure the union members were all asked, and in favour of their dues being used to support a political party in an election right? And I'm sure it is all above board, right? LOL LOL lOL”

    The elected executive of a union does not have to ask individual members whether they support a particular political contribution (or anything other expense) in much the same way that corporations do not have to ask each of their individual shareholders permission before making political contributions. That is above board.

  • RayK

    Your post has numerous inaccuracies.

    1) The Nova Scotia NDP does not–as you claim–have “a competitive shot at forming the next government” in Nova Scotia. According to every poll, they are the front runner and the conservative party is in third place.

    2) The federal and provincial New Democratic Parties maintain joint membership, but–as required by federal law–their finances are completely separate. Joint membership does not “allow[] the NDP the potential to play a bit of a shell game when it comes to finances”.

    3) As one of the Chronicle Herald stories to which you linked reports, this story did not break after “a reporter got wind of the donations”. The Nova Scotia NDP publicly announced that they were returning these donations after learning in “an off-the-record conversation with a freelance reporter” that the NSCTC (the Mainland Nova Scotia Construction and Trades Council) planned to reimburse–reimburse!–its affiliated unions for their contributions to the NDP. That would have been a violation of Nova Scotia’s electoral law.

    4) The Nova Scotia NDP never “claimed to be unaware” of these contributions. The Nova Scotia NDP was unaware that the NSCTC planned to reimburse its affiliated unions for the contributions until after the contributions had been given.

    5) You refer to these donations as “cash”. There was no cash involved.

    6) Darrell Dexter never claimed that “the NDP just found out about these donations on the weekend”. As quoted in the Chronicle Herald stories to which you linked, the Nova Scotia NDP has said (a) their official agent knew that several large donations would be coming in from NSCTC unions as early as Thursday, (b) their campaign director learned that the NSCTC intended to reimburse its affiliated unions for these contributions over the weekend and (c) Darrell Dexter learned what had occurred–and that the donations were being returned–on Monday morning. If you have a quote indicating that Darrell Dexter claimed the NDP had no idea these contributions even existed before the weekend, please provide it.

    7) The Nova Scotia NDP released a list of its contributors on Thursday, June 4th–three days after they first made this story public (Monday). This story did not break “five days” earlier as you claim.

    For the sake of honesty, you should correct the record.

  • http://www.searchingforliberty.blogspot.com/ Rob H.

    It's kind of interesting. How often to we hear of some evangelist Church leader in the U.S. preaching against the evils of everyone else, but then, being caught with his hands in the cookie jar or someone's pants? There is something about individuals who preach “goodness”, feeling that then gives them the moral superiority to rationalize any dishonest or crooked thing they do.

    So then – somewhat ironic, but not suprising that the Nova Scotia NDP, the “moral voice” of politics in Canada, is caught with their hand in the cookie jar now.

    I mean – it seems like just yesterday the B.C. New Democratic party was reeling under the arrest of their leader, and former Premier Glen Clark and issues of wrong doing and stupidity on the part of the NDP..

    - the fast ferry debacle – massive cost over-runs and delays, producing a sub-standard number of ferries that had to be sold below cost to a U.S. corporation;
    - the “fudge-it” budget scandal, where following the 1996 election, it was shown that the NDP government had manipulated the budget to show a surplus, when, in fact, they had predicted a deficit;
    - the “casino-gate” scandal – where Premier Clark resigned suddenly on the night of August 25, 1999 following allegations that he had accepted favours (in the form of free renovations worth $10,000) from Dimitrios Pilarinos in return for approving a casino application.. and while Clark was later acquitted of criminal charges, the Conflict of Interest commissioner made a finding that he had violated conflict of interest provisions.. and notwithstanding the acquittal, the presiding Justice provided the comment that while the evidence did not establish criminal coduct, she did refer to his conduct as “an act of folly”.

    Beware of preachers with shiny suits.

  • Ronald

    Unions are dead dinosaurs today.
    Just ask the CAW how effective they are – You learn your lessons albeit much later in life.
    Bailouts are a safety net for most of them but that will disappear before long.
    Looks good on em – Not required for general living.

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