Friday, May 21, 2010

The "in and out" twists and turns continue

Pierre Poilievre's loudly proclaimed "total vindication" for the Conservatives in the lower court ruling in the in and out matter may not have been so total it turns out. Some of their candidates, including three Harper cabinet ministers, might eventually face consequences for exceeding their local riding spending limits in the 2006 election as a result of that ruling. Consequences like being barred from running again.

The ruling, however, and that's a big however, is being appealed by Elections Canada. Those cabinet ministers might not be in jeopardy down the road if Elections Canada is ultimately successful in its appeal of the judgment. Elections Canada's argument has been "...that advertising expenses attributed to Tory candidates should have been reported as expenses for the national Conservative campaign." So the prospect of Harper cabinet ministers being in jeopardy of losing their ability to run in a future election is probably overstated as an imminent possibility. (I am assuming that the stay of the lower court ruling will be granted.)

This item is worth some attention in the meantime:
The Canadian Press has learned Corbett concluded long ago that there are reasonable grounds to believe a criminal offence was committed under the Canada Elections Act.Even without completing his investigation, Corbett referred the matter last June to the director of public prosecutions, who is still considering whether to lay charges.

Dan Brien, spokesman for the public prosecutor's office, confirmed the referral. Asked why no decision has been made after almost a year, he said: "It's a complex matter."

"It relates to a lengthy and ongoing investigation by the commissioner of elections." (emphasis added)
Sounds like someone wants us to know that the referral has been made but nothing's been done about it for a year.

The answer from the public prosecutor's office doesn't seem to be very satisfactory either. The public's been informed now that a referral was made based upon reasonable grounds to believe a criminal offence was committed. If indeed that is the case, then why hasn't action been taken? The public's entitled to more than "it's a complex matter." Maybe CP caught them off guard in inquiring about the matter but they need to be more forthcoming than this. It raises doubts about the integrity of the process.