Monday, April 28, 2008

Pierre Poilievre, Harpie approved front man on in-and-out

And a tremendous one he is. Between Pierre and Peter today in the House, the Canadian public must just be in awe of the talent and tone coming from the Conservative benches.

So Pierre's got some 1997 ruling he's waving about and hanging the Conservative fortunes on: "Tories insist old ruling justifies election spending." 1997. We don't know the facts of the instance that the former Chief Electoral Officer ruled upon. Nor is it clear that the laws applicable to a 1997 situation versus one in 2006 are identical. But nevertheless, Pierre's hanging on for dear life:
The federal Conservatives say a ruling by former chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley validates a controversial “in-and-out” campaign advertising scheme the party allegedly used during the last election, despite a different opinion held by the current electoral officer.
...
Tory MP Pierre Poilievre said Mr. Kingsley's 1997 judgment, which the MP promised to table in the House of Commons Monday, states that an election campaign ad is deemed to be local or national based on its tagline, not its content.

“We have legal backing from the former chief electoral officer. He may have changed his mind since then, and so may have Elections Canada, but that is not the fault of the Conservative Party,” he said during Question Period.

“Conservative candidates spent Conservative money on Conservative ads,” Mr. Poilievre said, parroting a defence he first used last September when the Elections Canada probe of the scheme first made headlines. (emphasis added)
Well, first of all, I'm sure Elections Canada is well aware of this old ruling. And yet they still disallowed the 65 local candidates' claims for reimbursement from the taxpayer for what Elections Canada deemed to be national ads. And they executed an unprecedented search warrant on Conservative headquarters. So it's certainly not as clear cut as Mr. P would have us believe today. I'm thinking Elections Canada knows what it's doing and this 1997 ruling is well known to them.

Secondly, one man is not the law. Kingsley may have ruled in a specific circumstance in 1997. But it's Parliament who makes the laws. Not Elections Canada. Not a Chief Electoral Officer. Contrary to Poilievre's characterization, a CEO provides "legal backing" to no one. Poilievre seems intent on continuing to denigrate Elections Canada in this manner, suggesting again that Elections Canada and the former CEO are being capricious in their application of the law by changing their minds, as Poilievre put it in the House today. So, the attack continues.

And as for that line that Mr. Poilievre keeps repeating, “Conservative candidates spent Conservative money on Conservative ads,” it's way off. It should read: "The national Conservative fund spent national Conservative money on national Conservative ads but the local candidates tried to get reimbursement from the taxpayers for them as local expenses." No big pooling of national and local funds permitted. Say it with me now, Pierre, the federal Conservative party had a spending limit of $18 million dollars. You don't get to spend whatever you like and in whatever manner you choose simply because it's Conservative money being spent by Conservative candidates on Conservative ads. Poilievre's argument leads to the ridiculous proposition that there's an unlimited national spending limit. And I heard him again mentioning free speech in the House yet as we all know, the spending limits in Canada have been determined to be reasonable limits on that right.

But keep putting him out there, Conservatives. He's quite the spokesperson you've got there...:)