Significance of this week’s in-and-out decision

On Monday, the federal court decided in favour of the Conservatives against Elections Canada when the regulator’s chief electoral officer (CEO) Marc Mayrand decided to withhold reimbursements to two candidates because they similar ads used by other candidates with the “tagline” of the ads changed.

Justice Martineau decided that Mayrand was wrong to do so and ordered Elections Canada to reimburse. This litigation only involved two candidates out of dozens because it was a test case for the Conservatives. It was decided Mayrand cannot withhold from all since the judge has decided in favour of the two. Paragraph 178 of the decision explicitly states this,

[178] For the reasons below, having considered the totality of the evidence on record, the Court finds that the claimed advertising expenses were actually incurred by the applicants. That said, the amounts reported by each applicant must be corrected to have the difference between the commercial value of the claimed advertising expenses and the amount actually invoiced by the Fund reported as a non-monetary contribution. Ultimately however, the Court finds that the impugned decisions are unreasonable and must be set aside.

Most significantly, this decision should deflate any investigation by Elections Canada into Conservative Party expenses regarding the in-and-out scheme.

Also significant, Martineau decided how it is that a campaign incurs an expense. The CEO and commissioner were of the opinion that the Conservative Regional Media Buy was a sham. The CEO had argued that it didn’t see a contract for the regional media buy and therefore costs were not incurred by the campaigns. However, as the judge indicated, incurring an expense simply means to take liability upon oneself, therefore no written contract would be required. Paragraphs 121-124 of the decision reflect this. Further, Martineau decided that,

“[124] Accordingly, the Court finds that the respondent, or Elections Canada’s representatives, erred in law in requiring that there be actual written contracts between the candidates or their official agents and the supplier of the advertising services that were provided in December 2005 and January 2006. Payment for these advertising services in January 2006, by the official agents of participating candidates, is proof that these services were duly authorized. Moreover, as illustrated below, the requirement to have actual written contracts appears to be contrary to Elections Canada’s and the CEO’s past practices with regard to RMBs.”

It appears that the CEO has misinterpreted the statute.

Furthermore, the court accepts evidence provided by the party that describes how expenses are incurred in paragraph 151 as it describes the Donald Affidavit,

[151] Moreover, the evidence on record, including the practices of other registered parties as set out in the exhibits to Geoff Donald’s affidavit (a political operations officer with the Conservative Party), illustrates that there is a presumption that a candidate has incurred an advertising expense if said expense has been paid from the candidate’s campaign account.

The Chief Electoral Officer changed the Elections Handbook in 2007 for candidates and official agents. The handbook is the CEO’s interpretation of the Elections Act distilled in a more readable form. Paragraph 142 of the decision describes this concept,

[142] Over the years, the CEO has published various handbooks that articulate his interpretation of the Act. Among these publications is the “Election Handbook for Candidates, their Official Agents and Auditors” (the handbook). While this handbook provides insight as to how the CEO and Elections Canada have understood certain provisions in the Act at various points in time, it is in no way binding on the Court. Nevertheless, from a practical point of view, candidates and their official agents are strongly advised by the CEO to seek independent legal counsel if they wish to depart from the interpretation adopted by the CEO in the handbook.

A key point of contention between the Conservative Party and Elections Canada was that the CEO changed the handbook in 2007 from the 2005-2006 version and applied his interpretation as a regulator of elections despite the fact that the underlying statute had not changed.

In 2005, during the election, advertising regional media buys conformed with the 2005-2006 version of the handbook. Without any change to the statute by parliament, the CEO changed the 2007 version of the handbook with respect to how valid candidate expenses for regional media buys were defined. The Conservative Party argued that the 2007 handbook guidelines were retroactively applied to the 2006 election though the 2005-2006 handbook described expenses differently. Paragraphs 144-147 recognition by the judge that a retroactive application of the “rules” was applied,

[144] Nevertheless, a reading of all the handbooks published by Elections Canada up to, but excluding, the most recent handbook issued in March 2007 (the 2007 handbook), clearly suggests that the CEO will treat as an election expense for the purpose of reimbursement, any cost incurred by a candidate’s campaign for the purchase of an ad that is used to promote both the candidate and its affiliated party.

[145] The fact that the same ad would have been used by the party to promote itself on a different occasion would not be considered a reason for refusing to certify such an expense.

[146] This liberal interpretation of section 407 is reflected in the different versions of the handbook published by Elections Canada over time. For example, the handbook issued in December 2005 (the 2005 handbook) provides:

Election advertising
Election advertising means the transmission to the public by any means during an election period of an advertising message that promotes or opposes a registered party of the election of a candidate, including one that takes a position of an issue with which a registered party or candidate is associated….

Identification of election advertising
All election advertising that promotes or opposes a registered political party or the election of a candidate, including taking position on an issue with which a registered party or candidate is associated, must indicate that it is authorized by the official agent of the candidate.
(Emphasis added.)

[147] Indeed, the handbooks have even provided for the possible situation of a candidate and a party agreeing to share an ad. According to the handbooks, if such a scenario arose, the CEO would review the basis for allocating the cost incurred by each, to verify that it was reasonable. As mentioned in the 2005 handbook:

…The following are examples of transfers:
[404.2(2), 404.2(3)]
…a proportion of expenses incurred to promote or oppose a candidate or a party. Elections Canada will accept the basis of allocation used by the official agent, provided that it is reasonable in the opinion of the Chief Electoral Officer, and provided that the auditor agrees that the allocation is reasonable and in keeping with this handbook.

Again, regarding the handbook, the judge remarks that the CEO’s interpretation of the Elections Act is just plain wrong. The interpretation of statute by the CEO and change in interpretation is not supported by Act passed by Parliament. Paragraphs, 130 and 131 describe this,

[130] The respondent submits in his written memorandum that the object and scheme of the Act require subsection 407(1) to be read disjunctively, resulting in the following definition:

407(1) An election expense includes any costs incurred, or nonmonetary contribution received, by a [ … ] candidate, to the extent that the property or service for which the costs was incurred, or the non-monetary contribution received, is used to directly promote or oppose […] a candidate during an election period.

(Emphasis added.)

[131] According to the respondent therefore, to be an election expense for a candidate, the election expense must be used to directly promote or oppose a candidate, and not a registered party or its leader. The Court does not accept the respondent’s disjunctive interpretation outlined above. A plain reading of subsection 407(1) does not authorize the Court to discard the words used by Parliament in enacting this provision. Rather, a plain reading favours the conjunctive interpretation that was found in material published by the CEO prior to the 2006 election. Namely, an election expense for a candidate can be one that exclusively promotes a candidate, or it can be one that directly promotes both a candidate and a registered party or its leader.

Speaking to party officials close to the issue, what I get from them is that they feel that the CEO is making up the rules as he goes along, interpreting changes to the statute when no such changes have been passed into law by Parliament.

If we look at the recent victory by the Conservative Party against Elections Canada in the GST double dip litigation, we can see a pattern of this behaviour according to my sources. Paragraphs 78 and 79 of the Conservative Party Fund v. Canada (Chief Electoral Officer) decision suggest this,

[78] There is no basis in the statute for finding that, in the circumstances of competing policy concerns that are both directed toward furthering the policy of a “level playing field” among political parties, the interpretation that gives effect to the policy of a “level playing field” in respect of a political party’s maximum expense limit under section 422 must take precedence.

[79] Accordingly, I conclude that there is no basis in the Act, or in the Harper decision, for the CEO’s position that the policy of a “level playing field” for all political parties in Canada mandates the CEO’s interpretation of the Act in the face of the plain wording of the Act and the other considerations set out above.

Two separate court hearings before two different courts have concluded that the Chief Electoral Officer’s interpretation of statute has been flat-out wrong. In fact because of this poor interpretation of statute, the CEO has been making up rules as he goes along. This faulty interpretation of statute has impeded the Conservative Party specifically.

Troubling is the position of Elections Canada in this entire ordeal. Their role as a regulator is to apply statute passed by the will of Parliament. If they were to appeal this decision or proceed with an investigation, the regulator would then enter the arena among the partisans. Elections Canada should be educated by the court’s decision and not move to disagree because it would reflect a divergent view from that defined by statute and clarified by the Federal Court this week.

For reference, here are the two decisions discussed in this post:
Martineau decision, Federal Court – In and Out

Wilton-Siegel decision, Superior Court of Justice – GST double dip

Victory in the in-and-out saga. Federal court rules for CPC.

In a decision that is certain to rattle Marc Mayrand at Elections Canada, the Liberals which prosecuted “trials” of Conservative election financing in Parliamentary committees and media observers that believe the worst about the Conservative Party, the Federal Court decided in the matter of L.G. Callaghan and the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada.

The question before the court was whether or not Elections Canada could legally refuse to certify, for the purposes of reimbursement under s.465 of the Elections Act, the claimed advertising expenses on the ground that it is not satisfied that the expenses have actually been incurred by the candidates themselves.

Here is the decision from the Federal Court:

The court decided that Mayrand inappropriately withheld expenses from Conservative candidates suggesting that these candidates in fact incurred those expenses, rather than the party. This means that the party has come in under the election spending limit (nationally) which is at the heart of this in-and-out debate. If the party has come under the legal limit, what else is there to talk about?

So far, Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc has not provided comment. Here’s what he said on April 15th, 2008:

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are hiding the truth from Canadians. They filed a bogus civil suit against Elections Canada. They know very well that the RCMP never executes search warrants in civil cases. This morning, the RCMP executed a warrant in a quasi-criminal case.

How is it that the government does not know the difference?

I’ll post reaction from key players as it comes in.

“Tough talk” from Dion, until the headline question comes up

Today, Stephane Dion held a press conference in the National Press Theatre in Ottawa to address recent comments by the Prime Minister regarding the dysfunction of Parliament, particularly in reference to the Ethics committee which wrapped up a round of meetings last week without much accomplished.

The leader of the opposition started his press conference by responding indirectly to the Prime Minister’s ultimatum given in at the Conservative caucus retreat in Lévis, Quebec when the PM said that Mr. Dion has to “fish or cut bait”, meaning that Dion either has to instruct his members to contribute to a working atmosphere in Parliament or indicate to the PM that its time for an election. Dion made reference to fishing, cutting the fish, eating the fish and fishing for victory… or something. The Liberal leader was certainly fishing, however, not in the way the Prime Minister had hoped and rather was searching for a reason to defer ultimate judgment on this Parliament.

His tough words were empty as he told gathered reporters that the PM was wrong on climate change, irresponsible on the alleged Cadman affair, on the so-called In-and-out election financing scheme, but as Richard Brennan from the Toronto Star asked, why don’t you just say “bring it on”?

Dion was non-committal and responded that Canadians have indicated that they want an election, that there will be an election but there are by-elections to win first. Asked whether his indecisiveness will make him look weak to Canadians, Dion non-answered that his job isn’t to respond to the Prime Minister’s taunts but to replace him.

The opposition leader asserted that this is the most partisan government for some time and reflected a non-partisan tone claiming that while the Liberals are the party of multiculturalism and the Charter that no party has a monopoly on that. Similarly, on the topic of national unity, Dion responded that a right-wing government doesn’t make him feel less Canadian and that the Prime Minister should set a non-partisan tone on the unity file.

Despite these concessions, irresponsibility was the charge that Dion laid against the Prime Minister during the press conference and said that the PM’s tactics in the 39th Parliament were “unacceptable”.

Stephane Dion has had over 40 opportunities to offer more than words on the “unacceptable” state of Parliament.  Will he stop fishing and finally cut bait?

CH panel: Fall election?

Today I was on a panel with Mike Crawley, the President of the Ontario wing of the Liberal Party of Canada and with Wayne Marston, NDP MP from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek. We were chatting about a possible fall election and the dysfunction of the Ethics committee.

Click here to watch

Which NDP and Bloc candidate filings are under review by Elections Canada?

Today Marc Mayrand of Elections Canada hinted at the Ethics committee that filings from other parties were also under review by his organization that oversees elections. Currently, Elections Canada claims that the Conservative Party has run afoul of the Elections Act by the shifting of so-called expenses from the national campaign to the local campaigns. However, Elections Canada is only focusing their brutish efforts on the Conservative Party.

I decided to look into this and found that Elections Canada actually discloses via “creative” querying of their database which candidate filings are under review. If we access the contributions and expenses database on the Elections Canada website, we can compare submitted vs. reviewed filings from all candidates. There are discrepancies between both lists suggesting that Elections Canada is actively reviewing a number of filings from candidates of the 2006 General Election.

Data as submitted:

vs. data as reviewed:

Here is the NDP in BC:
Data as submitted:

Data as reviewed:

Nathan Cullen, Libby Davies, and Malcolm James are not on the “data as reviewed by Elections Canada” list while they are on the “data as submitted list”. These NDPers seem to have election filings that are under active review by Elections Canada.

NDP in New Brunswick:
Data as submitted:

Data as reviewed:

Alice Finnamore, Neil Gardner, and Yvon Godin seem to have filings that are under active review by Elections Canada.

NDP in Saskatchewan:
Data as submitted:

Data as reviewed:

Elgin Wayne Wyatt’s name is discrepant between filings submitted to and filings reviewed by Elections Canada suggesting this candidate’s filing is under active review by Elections Canada.

NDP in Ontario:
Data as submitted:


Data as reviewed:


Nirvan Balkissoon, Olivia Chow, Ed Chudak, and Sid Ryan have submitted their filings to Elections Canada but EC has not finished reviewing them meaning they have been flagged for some reason.

NDP in Quebec:
Data as submitted:

Data as reviewed:

Robert Donnelly, Anne Lesvesque, Isabelle Maguire, Ehsan Mohammadian, and Stephane Ricard have not had the reviews of their candidate filings completed by Elections Canada.

NDP in Alberta, Manitoba, Yukon, NWT, Nunavut, PEI, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador:
no discrepancy between lists

The Bloc Quebecois only has one candidate from the last election that appears to be under active review by Elections Canada. Diane Bourgeois, according to the EC website, has submitted her candidate filing, however, its review has not been completed.

BQ in Quebec:
Data as submitted:

Data as reviewed:

Election factors

As Parliamentary break week comes to a wrap in Ottawa, politicos are watching perceived paradigm shift of sorts as suddenly the chatter has moved from Dion’s effectiveness, for the first time since his election as leader, to mounting Conservative troubles capped by the so-called In-and-Out “scandal”. As Ottawa shifts and regroups before parliamentarians return to their seats next week, let’s assess the political landscape and consider the maneuverings and motivations of the federal parties.

Ottawa observers in the press gallery have predicted that we’ll quietly move into summer as the Liberals and Conservative regroup to do battle in the fall as a few parliamentary hurdles are surpassed and Canadians have time to assess the mathematics of In-and-Out that has everyone in this town both confused and hungry for more details.

However, there are a few factors which indicate that both the Conservatives and Liberals are moving towards preparing for a summer election.

Sources of mine close to Liberal preparations have quietly passed on that Grit organizers in southern Ontario have activated their volunteer base in at least 15 ridings. In fact, Stephane Dion had a campaign photo shoot within the past week in order to get, among other things, his visage wrapped around Liberals buses. The Liberals may be moving ahead for a June election for a variety of reasons including the fact that Stephane Dion’s leadership debt – a staggering $800,000 owed to creditors – comes due at the end of June. What will Elections Canada have to say about this, if anything? If the government body acts to rebuke Dion, this will take some punch out of Liberal scandal-mongering on In-and-Out.

Conservatives on the other hand are making a few preparations. On the party side, a handful of Conservative nominations have been released in order to secure candidates as soon as possible. When it comes to the Prime Minister’s office and recent messaging, Mr. Harper at a rally last night in Montreal tested a few lines on Stephane Dion’s countless opportunities to bring down the government. One assumes that if the Liberal leader feels an urgency to send Canadians to the polls that the Conservatives will underscore this as opportunism instead. On the policy front, in the past week Stephen Harper has been messaging on what will likely be the key message of an upcoming campaign: the economy. Canadians are uncertain about the future economic climate as the US goes into recession and as the Canadian economy bellies up to the same line. In the past week, the Prime Minister has linked immigration to improving Canada’s skilled worker capacity, has emphasized stronger trade relations with India, spoken about targeting economic spending to bolster strategic Quebec industries such as aerospace and space and health sciences, and has had a tri-lateral meeting with US and Mexican leaders on SPP as a compliment to NAFTA.

In a future election campaign, Liberals in Dion’s office have told me that they will run on a theme of “wrong direction” meaning that in the climate of scandal that has been constructed, the Liberals will suggest to Canadians that the Prime Minister is taking the country along the wrong path and that the policy of this government just emphasizes this. Of course, this will be problematic for Liberals as they’ve been effectively rubber-stamping every Conservative policy that has moved through the House by abstaining from votes.

Emphasizing scandal can be risky for the Liberal campaign as it leaves campaign scripting vulnerable to unforeseen events such as the RCMP’s warning that more Liberal charges are coming with respect to the sponsorship scandal. Such a development would be uncomfortable for Dion as Canadians are reminded of Liberals stealing other people’s money to fight elections (rather than spend their own as Conservatives have done with In-and-Out).

If the Liberal intend to go to an election this summer, the knee-capping factor may be the NDP. Jack Layton’s party would not want to see the writ dropped on perceived Liberal momentum as any narrative that has Dion within arms reach of Stephen Harper would cause the “Think Twice” coalition of pseudo-socialists to reconvene and urge Canadians to vote Liberal. The ideal election scenario for Layton is a ballot question that splits Canadians left and right on an issue that leaves Liberals without any semblance of cohesion. The NDP can rest assured that Harper, the strategic chess player that he is, has crafted such a scenario. The NDP knows that going to an election on Liberal terms would be a disasterous scenario for their party as their seat count would diminish and their $1.83 per vote lost would decrease the party’s war chest by millions over the period of a future Conservative or Liberal government. The NDP has been working quietly to give a soft-landing where they can for Conservatives (the Lukiwski scandal was relatively easy on the Tories and handled much better than the freelancing done by Irene Mathyssen on James Moore) and aggravating Liberal planning where they can.

Observers that think that the Prime Minister is looking for an opportunity to orchestrate an election should take stock of a few factors. On the partisan side, Conservatives are looking forward to a policy convention scheduled for the fall. Not having had a convention since 2005, the party is preparing for the event and would rather avoid an election that would jeopardize the gathering. Most importantly however, while everyone else is distracted by the narrow scope of the daily street battle of Ottawa politics, the Prime Minister is reconfiguring the broader electoral and political landscape for sustained decades-long effect. The more time that the Prime Minister has to restructure the Canadian state, its identity and political brands, the more permanence his agenda will have. Whenever the election, of the men that will seek a mandate from the exercise, one seeks the Prime Ministership as a means to an end, while the other aimlessly covets it for no other reason than to remedy the dissonance of a desanguinated party that stands for nothing else.

The Elections Canada raid (supporting information and Conservative response)

Below you’ll find the application for a search warrant from Elections Canada (the warrant), attached appendices to the affidavit of EC official Ronald Lamothe, and a list of contradictions that the Conservative Party believes to exist between Lamothe’s affidavit and the supporting documentation.

First, the search warrant:

Read this doc on Scribd: stephentaylorca-warrant

and the appendices to the affidavit sworn by Lamothe:

Read this doc on Scribd: appendices to affidavit

The Conservative Party has pointed out contradictions that exist between the affidavit sworn and supporting material provided in the appendices to the affidavit. Here are the contradictions that they emphasize (received via email (on the record) from the CPC):

In general, the text of the affidavit is extremely one-sided. It is replete with misstatement, misquote, incomplete quotes, and apparently deliberate omission of information which is contrary to the existence of their “theme” of a “scheme”. A particular concern would be some very serious distortions of the documents that the affidavit purports to paraphrase or refer to.

1. An outrageous example is the fabricated purported quote of Irving Gerstein, Chair of Conservative Fund Canada, contained at p. 54, para 229d. Compare the paraphrased “quote” in the text to the actual email from the person purporting to quote Mr Gerstein, contained at Appendix 25 of the document. The person quoting Mr Gerstein in the email does not say that Mr Gerstein even referred to a “switch” in advertising expenses, let alone that this would be necessary to avoid breaching the limit. The version of the quote in the affidavit is a fabrication by the affiant.

This fabrication undermines the credibility of all the other paraphrased quotes in the affidavit, especially where the quotes are from individuals whose statements are not contained in emails of third parties (as with Mr Gerstein) but rather were allegedly directly made in conversations with the investigators.

2. Another outrageous example is the repeated but baseless implication or innuendo that Party staff essentially fraudulently altered Retail Media invoices (pages 16, 23, 53, 54, 55). This is manifestly false: the explanation is contained at para 79, and reflected in the documents at App 19 and 23. Simply stated, one Retail Media invoice that lists some 40 ridings was obviously re-copied for ease of reference to refer to one riding at a time. The amount applicable to a given riding was unchanged.

3. This baseless implication of fraudulent invoicing is repeated at p. 25, para 92. There is reference to a Retail Media invoice for a riding of $10,657 for “radio”, while it is noted the Party invoice for that riding for “media buy” is $21,240.57. The affiant states that he “is not aware of the reason for the difference”. The reason is that he ignored another Retail Media invoice for the same riding contained at the previous page in the same Appendix (App 8, at pp. 211ff), in the amount of $10,584, for “TV”. The two Retail Media invoices together total $21, 241 – i.e., the same amount as carried forward onto the Party invoice.

4. At p. 25, para. 90, there is a paraphrased alleged quote of an official agent, Lise Vallieres, suggesting that she had never agreed to the advertising expenditure. It is disturbing that there is no reference here to the letter that her candidate sent to Elections Canada dated December 15, 2006 concerning his campaign’s participation in the regional media buy. The letter states as follows:

“Il s’agit d’un ‘placement collectif’ de publicité de plusieurs comtés lors de la dernière election générale (23 janvier 2006). Mme. Lise Vallières, agent officielle du soussigné, a accepté d’y participer de bonne foi.”

(see O’Grady affidavit in Federal Court filing)

5. Anyone familiar with federal electoral law and policy would be aware that every candidate and official agent must sign the following declaration to Elections Canada in relation expenditure listed in their return:

“I hereby solemnly declare that to the best of my knowledge and belief:

“1. the information contained in this return is correct; all election expenses in respect of the conduct or management of the election have been properly recorded;

“I make this solemn declaration conscientiously, believing it to be true and knowing that it is of the same force and effect as if made under oath and by virtue of the Canada Evidence Act.”

Yet, there is no reference to this in the several pages of paraphrased quotes from candidates and agents who were interviewed by the investigators.

6. Further, given the repeated implications in the alleged paraphrased quotes that candidates or agents did not enter binding contracts for the advertising, it is unbalanced that there is no reference to the considerable evidence in the emails that Mr Donison dealt directly with many of the local agents or candidates and he stated at the time that he was getting “solemn contractual commitments” from them (see Appendix 47).

7. Also disturbing is the innuendo at p. 54 that Party officials “chose not to seek a ruling…prior to ‘switching’.” The underlying e-mail (Appendix 21) is actually between two people in the media industry, not the Party, who simply discuss whether the Broadcasting Arbitrator should be consulted as to whether they can act as buying agents for local campaigns. There is no mention of “switching”.

Back in November of last year, the Conservative Party filed an affidavit (the “Donald Affidavit”) with the federal court. The document describes similar activities of other federal parties during previous elections and serves to rhetorically ask why the Conservative Party is singled out for what they argue is a common practice. The Conservatives maintain that these transfers for federal/regional/candidate ad buying is legal and that their position is defensible. The party is currently challenging what they argue is the selective misinterpretation of the Elections Act against them by Elections Canada. The Donald Affidavit elaborates on this argument.

Read this doc on Scribd: stephentaylorca-donaldaffidavit

No, Carole… I really have no idea at all.

This was the CBC’s chief political correspondent Keith Boag’s response to CBC Sunday host Carole McNeil as to why the seasoned journalist and a select few were excluded from a Conservative media briefing on the now famous Elections Canada “visit” at a Sheraton hotel conference room this afternoon.

Boag expresses befuddlement and files a story about the story, something that has happened more and more in this town since Stephen Harper became Prime Minister.

They say that in this town, it can be more about who you know than what you know. Today, it seems that this is still true.

In less than one week after Boag and camera crew had an exclusive tip-off to show up and film an RCMP investigation (as Boag originally reported), the senior CBC newsman files a frustrated story but fails to speculate on why he doesn’t share the same insider access to CPC news tips that he seems to enjoy from raid tipsters with special knowledge of Elections Canada’s gameplan.

Something isn’t right about RCMP “raid”

If the Conservative Party of Canada is in the midst of a confrontational legal matter with Elections Canada, isn’t it a bit imprudent for EC to use an enforcement mechanism of the state (the RCMP) to gain leverage (political and informational) against its opponent?

Let’s consider an analogy.

If I was suing Heath Canada for certifying faulty medical equipment that led to personal injury, would it be appropriate for Heath Canada to call in the RCMP to raid my office in order to gather evidence of my claim, decreasing the merit of my case in the eyes of my co-workers (or even the national media if they were called ahead of time). Since Health Canada and I have equal standing in court, would I have the power to leverage this same enforcement mechanism to help my case?

Since Elections Canada has a stake in an ongoing civil action with the Conservative Party of Canada, is conducting their related investigation in conflict with the equal standing that the Conservatives should reasonably expect in their civil case against them?

Furthermore, doesn’t a court in a civil matter have the same powers to gather and secure evidence? So, why is this being done by the RCMP and why is this being directed by one of the stakeholders in a related lawsuit?

Should Elections Canada suspend its investigation process until questions raised by the Conservative Party’s civil suit are sorted out?

UPDATE:It would seem that according to Mr. Lamothe at Elections Canada that “the Commissioner of Canada Elections is not party to this litigation”.

In and Out common to all parties say Conservatives

The Hill Times had a cover story today describing an affidavit that the Conservative Party filed in Federal Court one week ago today.

The affidavit details examples of so-called in and out election financing by other parties. The HT story included a quote from Tory MP Tom Lukiwski,

In the affidavit, we listed more than 100 individual candidates from all three parties that did the exact same thing that we did in terms of how they entered into an agreement with their national parties on a regional ad buy. So in effect, regardless of the motion of Ms. Redman, we will now be able to take a look at the affidavits that have been presented and I would be fully prepared to bring forward witnesses and all of these candidates from the various parties and have them come forward and have them explain how they entered into this agreement and ask the question that if all parties were doing the same thing why is it that only the Conservative Party was being singled out?

The motion of Ms. Redman, the Liberal whip, was tabled at the Procedure and House Affairs committee asked the committee to investigate “In and Out” financing during the last election. The Conservatives believe that their affidavit shows that all parties participated in the financing practice which allowed individual candidates, in some cases, to participate in regional ad buys.

In discussions with some Conservatives I have heard that there is generally held belief among officials in the party that Elections Canada has been biased in its withholding of $1.2 million of rebates from the Tories. The Conservatives ask rhetorically what the key difference is between their “in and out” financing versus that of the NDP and Liberals. Some Conservatives believe that it is because of party stripe.

I have obtained a copy of the “Donald Affidavit” which describes examples of “in and out” ad buying by other parties.

Donald Affidavit (PDF)