RCMP officers raided Conservative party headquarters in Ottawa on Tuesday at the request of Elections Canada.Now this is downright embarrassing for a government that rode into town on the accountability and transparency train. What an absolute crock that's all turned out to be, as we well know at this point. Having Elections Canada execute a search warrant on your headquarters with an assist from the RCMP...now that's a landmark day in the life of a federal government. What a disaster.
Elections commissioner William Corbett asked the Mounties to execute a search warrant, but officials wouldn't say why.
"I can confirm that the commissioner of Elections Canada has requested the assistance of the RCMP in the execution of a search warrant," said spokesman John Enright.
"The commissioner has no further comment."
Elections Canada and the Conservative party have been engaged in a protracted legal battle over alleged campaign spending irregularities from the 2006 election.
At least two Mounties searched party offices on the 12th floor of a downtown building as camera crews filmed outside. A short time later, two officers rolled a cart full of boxes and bags into a 17th-floor mailroom.
Andre Thouin, an elections official, left later with a box of documents.
Corbett launched an investigation in April 2007 into $1.2-million worth of Conservative election television and radio advertising that was challenged by Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand.
Mayrand refused to reimburse Conservative candidates for part of the advertising money when they claimed it as local expenses. The ads were produced for the party's national campaign, which has a separate limit for election spending.
The Conservatives insist the transactions were legal but Elections Canada disagrees and opposition parties have labelled the scheme outright fraud.
Needless to say, today's raid is particularly ironic given the Conservatives' penchant for appealing to Canadians who "work hard and play by the rules." Harper made that exact appeal, just yesterday. Canadians know, however, as we have seen the Conservatives exceeding election spending limits, a fundamental principle underpinning any sense of fairness in our democracy, that the same cannot be said for Conservatives.
Let's see what their spin is on this travesty in Question Period today. I suppose Van Loan will be saying it's before the courts and he can't comment...:)