Thursday, March 03, 2011

The "In and Out" Scandal: the "lust to win at any cost and at any price"

Harper had this to say yesterday in the House of Commons when pressed on the Federal Court of Appeal decision that the Conservatives had wrongly overspent by $1.3 million in the 2006 election: "Our party and our candidates acted in good faith." Harper also said repeatedly: "Our party's position is to always respect Elections Canada's interpretation of the law..." and "That said, our position is clear: we respect the interpretations of Elections Canada." The headlines yesterday after the House of Commons exchanges echoed Harper's words: "Harper says he respects Elections Canada's rules."

Well, the CBC had a report last night on the in and out scheme that should be watched in conjunction with the Prime Minister's statements (key part following 1:35 mark). Some of the key material covered in that CBC report can also be found here, where concerns were expressed by the Conservative ad company to the Conservatives about the legality of what the Conservatives wanted to do with their advertising scheme. Note the reaction by a Conservative at the end:
On Dec. 6, 2005, just days after the campaign began, Mr. Kumpf sent an e-mail to Conservative party officials, wondering if the proposal to have Retail Media place ads on behalf of local candidates would violate the Canada Elections Act: "While our thinking is that this option would be legal, we are not certain beyond all reasonable doubt."

That e-mail message was part of nearly 800 pages of documents the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections used to convince a judge to grant a request for a search warrant of Conservative party headquarters last week.

What the story doesn't include, from the original document, is the rest of the paragraph:
Therefore, with your permission we'd like to contact the Broadcast Arbitrator first thing this morning and enquire.
And the response from Perry Miele:
Hold tight until I ask Mike in Ottawa, we may not want anyone talking to them.
A party that had been following the PM's present day talking points wouldn't have had a problem with that, would they?

Interesting material picked up in that reporting last night which provides current and helpful background context for the PM's statements yesterday.