Monday, October 05, 2009

Let's play four: Conservative Raitt's fundraiser spawns request for four investigations

Paul Szabo's a busy guy today. It's not just the Ethics commissioner being asked to investigate the Lisa Raitt Conservative fundraiser that was promoted through a federal and technically independent, non-partisan agency, the Toronto Port Authority. Elections Canada, the Lobbying and Privacy Commissioners are also in the mix.

The Elections Canada complaint asks for an opinion on whether the use of the resources of the Toronto Port Authority as a federal agency to raise funds for the Conservatives is "an illegal in-kind donation to the party." As for the other two complaints, CP has the details:
Recipients were told to RSVP to Michael McSweeney, a registered lobbyist for the Cement Association of Canada. The association's president directly lobbied Raitt and her staff in a meeting earlier this year.

Szabo says he sent a letter to the commissioner of lobbying, complaining about McSweeney's involvement.

"It's effectively an inducement to try to influence the minister's decisions," Szabo said.

And Szabo says the privacy commissioner should look at whether the authority used personal or corporate information in government databases when it sent out emails.

"It appears a federal authority may have violated their own privacy laws," Szabo said.
Raitt, of course, is not commenting. Saving it for the cornucopia of federal commissioners she may have to prepare to answer? Let's hope these commissioners agree that this fundraiser crossed the line, in many ways, on improper usage of government resources.

These allegations against Raitt are symptomatic of the bigger story, the incredible use of public resources for Conservative political benefit. It's out of control and needs to be stood up to, glad to see it being pushed strongly like this.