Friday, June 29, 2012

Following the money

The big news of the past 24 hours in Canadian politics: "Del Mastro donors offer to trade details on alleged reimbursement scheme for immunity."
Donors who say they were reimbursed for contributions they made to Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro’s 2008 election campaign have offered to speak to Elections Canada if given immunity from prosecution.

A lawyer representing some of the donors wrote to the elections watchdog to say they will provide details of a scheme that allegedly used payments from a Mississauga, Ont., electrical company owned by Del Mastro’s cousin to reimburse donors.

The lawyer specified these donors will co-operate if they are assured they would not face prosecution for accepting reimbursement and claiming the donations as deductions on their tax returns.

It is illegal to conceal the source of political contributions under the Elections Act.
We don't know how many individuals this lawyer represents but the reference is to multiple donors. Recall that the employee's sworn statement referenced in the previous reporting (and this one) referred to 19 people in total who could possibly have been part of a reimbursement scheme. So it would be interesting to know how many people are offering to co-operate.

Regarding this policy:
Citing its standard policy of not commenting on investigations or complaints, Elections Canada would not say whether it would accept the offer or even confirm it had been received. The agency will not say if it is looking into these allegations.
Why is this the policy of Elections Canada? These are serious allegations and the public has a right to know whether they are being pursued. Elections Canada did affirm it was investigating the robocall allegations, they should do the same here and make a statement, as soon as they are prepared to do so and mindful of the public interest. Transparency breeds accountability and faith in the system. 

Also, the report goes on to mention Harper's support of Del Mastro in Parliament last week. But if these allegations are proven, it would be hard to imagine that support continuing.