Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The "in & out" House of Commons motion passes

The following motion on the Conservative "in and out" election scheme of 2006 passed in the House of Commons last night by a vote of 152-139:
That, in the opinion of the House, the Conservative Party of Canada's "in and out" electoral financing scheme was an act of electoral fraud and represents an assault on the democratic principles upon which Parliament and our electoral system are based, and that, further, the House calls upon the Prime Minister to: (a) order the immediate repayment of any and all illegally obtained electoral rebates that were paid out to candidates for the Conservative Party of Canada as a result of the "in and out" fraud; and (b) remove all individuals facing charges for this fraud from any position of responsibility within Government or the Conservative Party of Canada.
That is an important marker as an election becomes a distinct possibility, as a defining expression of the scandal by a majority of the House of Commons. It also calls upon the Prime Minister to do two things. Setting up the virtual certainty that he will not do those two things and so, once again, will ignore the majority will of the House of Commons.

There is some reaction to this motion.

It looks like even the very Conservative friendly Globe gets its seriousness. Well, a little bit anyway:
Mr. Harper should ensure the Conservative Party show [sic] good faith by acknowledging its too-clever-by-half mistake, reimbursing the public purse with the amount by which it overspent, and putting the in-and-out controversy to rest six years after the election in question.
The in-and-out affair should, however, be taken seriously. Twisting words out of their natural meaning to evade what is now the law of the land cannot be overlooked or excused.
So there's a well-timed vote from a Conservative friendly corner for paying back the overspent 2006 election funds. Setting aside the Globe's effort to play down the in & out scandal as a confidence measure, to distance Mr. Harper from in & out (he is steeped in election spending limits knowledge, should not have happened under his watch) and to change the channel to revising election laws. Beyond all that apologetic cover, buried in the middle, there was the one point above worth noting. They seem to be saying the jig is up, give it a rest and admit your wrong. (There are substantial taxpayer funded legal and investigative fees that have been incurred on this too by the way, here's an end of 2008 report in need of an update.)

Chantal Hebert comments on the motion's significance today too:
On paper, it is an issue whose narrative thread may have been lost by many voters along the way. The battle between the ruling party and Elections Canada is already five years old. A few years ago, it featured an unprecedented police raid on Conservative headquarters. Now it is slowly unfolding before the courts. Recently, charges were laid against a handful of senior party officials, including two senators.

But the motion serves a larger purpose. It is designed to start driving a stake through the heart of the minority Parliament ahead of the budget.
We'll see what happens in coming days, with the Speaker rulings to come (Oda, withholding of  information on crime bill costs) and the budget, but these views do turn up the heat on this Conservative scandal.