Wednesday, April 30, 2008

58% don't believe the Conservatives' insistence they did nothing wrong

Interesting scene in the House of Commons this afternoon. The Liberals repeatedly put the question to Harper, "When did the Prime Minister learn of the in-and-out election scheme and when did he approve it?" To which, of course, we were treated to the PM's particular specialty, avoidance of the question. And of course, Pierre Poi-lie-vre (if you're having trouble spelling it, that's how I remember) citing a litany of instances of MP's who have, lo and behold, done the same thing that the innocent little Conservatives did in 2006. Such instances being carefully doled out depending on the questioning party. What impact this tactic of putting the questions to the government without them answering will have, who knows. To Harper opponents, it looks like they're not answering questions. To Harper supporters, they can point to the Conservative responses. Seems like deadlock, on an optics level, anyway.

Problem with all of the above is, and I'm afraid we're all repeating ourselves at this point, that only the Conservatives are being investigated by Elections Canada. That's the hard and fast truth that's very tough to swallow for Conservatives. To get out from under that black mark, Canadians are supposed to believe the line that the Conservatives are going to try to spin from here on in, that there's a massive conspiracy against them, deep in the heart of Elections Canada. So big that Elections Canada is willing to give a pass to the quite obvious violations in Mr. Poilievre's mind. It's just not believable. It's desperate and laughable.

The key distinguishing factors in the Conservatives' in-and-out scheme are that the national party controlled its execution, many of the local candidates had no idea what was going on with it and it permitted the national Conservative party to exceed their national spending limit. The other parties are not being investigated for exceeding spending limits, pure and simple.

If you haven't read Tonda MacCharles' report in the Star today, summing up the Conservatives' vote against Elections Canada yesterday, check it out. It's a good exercise in point, counterpoint presentation, for example:

Harper, in his most direct challenge to date of Elections Canada's actions, said it is "strange that Elections Canada had one practice for the Conservative party and one for other parties."

"In fact, the Conservative Party of Canada has never refused any documentation to Elections Canada," the Prime Minister said.

Elections Canada says it sought the search warrant because it was facing reluctant and hostile witnesses in its investigation. It says up to 18 candidates and agents refused to be interviewed or to produce documents at the urging of Conservative party officials.

Point, counterpoint. Harper's statement that he's the most cooperative fella in town just doesn't jive with the facts on the ground.

And you have to love the glaring fact about yesterday's historic vote by the Conservatives, cited in the beginning of the same report:
Conservatives have launched an all-out assault on Elections Canada's credibility, voting against a motion to express confidence in the independent agency.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper yesterday charged that the agency "broke its own rules" with a raid two weeks ago on his party's headquarters, but was absent hours later when the entire Conservative caucus voted against a Bloc Québécois motion of confidence in Elections Canada – a move deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff denounced as "shameful."

The motion passed, supported by Liberal, Bloc and New Democrat MPs, 152 to 117. (emphasis added)
Harper wasn't there for the vote. All this bluster about the tainted Elections Canada from the PM ("Harper, in his most direct challenge to date of Elections Canada's actions, said it is "strange that Elections Canada had one practice for the Conservative party and one for other parties.") yet he was conveniently absent when it came time to do the repulsive deed. Suggesting an admission that this was an inappropriate vote for a PM to cast.

They may be arguing this scandal to a stalemate in the House. But the problem is, of course, Elections Canada is doing its job and that continues. And there's this:
A new poll suggests most Canadians believe the federal Conservatives spent more money than they were legally allowed during the last election.

Fifty-eight per cent of respondents told The Canadian Press/Harris-Decima survey they don't believe the Tories' insistence that they did nothing wrong.
See? It's the overspending, stupid...:) People just get it.