Friday, April 18, 2008

Is this the content of the search warrant?

If the Star has not obtained a copy of the search warrant executed at Conservative party HQ this week, it looks like they've come awfully close to uncovering the scope of it:
After a two-day search of files and electronic databases at Conservative party headquarters, Elections Canada seized material related to the party's "media advertising" in the last election.

At least some of the material that was carted or wheeled out Tuesday and Wednesday by RCMP officers assisting Elections Canada investigators was the basis for the party's planned questioning of elections officials in the lawsuit challenging their interpretation of campaign financing rules.

Included among papers and emails seized or downloaded were all of the party's documents, including a series of indexed binders of Elections Canada records, related to the Conservatives' challenge in Federal Court of the agency's decision to disallow rebate claims involving some local campaign advertising expenses in the 2006 election, according to a document obtained by the Star.
(emphasis added)
What might that document obtained by the Star be? Hmmmm?

That list of documents sounds pretty comprehensive. "All of the party's documents..." the report reads. That might suggest that the Conservative party may be proceeding in its lawsuit against Elections Canada but perhaps not cooperating in the second procedure, the investigation by Elections Commissioner William Corbett. If they have been, why would the Commissioner have to execute a search warrant in which he obtains "all of the party's documents?"

The Conservative line on their cooperation, as reported by MacCharles is as follows:
Tory officials say they are in the dark as to why exactly elections commissioner William Corbett, who is the chief investigator of alleged Elections Act violations, went to the lengths of getting a sealed search warrant, issued in Toronto.

Officials say they have not received a request for documents from Elections Canada in three months, and everything asked for was handed over apart from a few disputes "over minutia," in the words of one.
Could that be some p.r. parsing going on from these Conservative officials? I could see them not receiving a request for documents from the Commissioner for three months. That's a red herring. If the Conservatives had stonewalled the Commissioner for say, eight months prior to that, he might have stopped for a pause from beating his head against a concrete wall as he considered what to do next. Perhaps the Conservatives had been given warning prior to that three month period that they could be subjected to a search warrant failing production of documents. And as for suggesting "everything asked for was handed over apart from a few disputes "over minutia"... well, one person's minutia is another's mountain. It's all a matter of argument. And again, these Conservative remarks suggesting they've been compliant in matters of document production may be limited, again, to their civil dispute with Elections Canada, not the investigation being conducted by Commissioner Corbett. Corbett is independent within Elections Canada and the two procedures are independent. The blanket use of "Elections Canada" here by Conservative officials may be meant to purposely confuse.

Interesting add on:
Conservative party staffers were able to access their desks and files for the first time yesterday since Elections Canada arrived at their offices with the RCMP first thing Tuesday morning.
Could be just a matter of the Star having observed things. Or, gasp, could a Conservative staffer(s) have spoken to the media?

Thought provoking report.