Monday, August 11, 2008

Conservatives getting a dose of accountability and they can't stand it

It's a very unfamiliar thing for them. See how they squirm. They go to extremes. They chafe so much that if they don't get their way in the committee room, they must be removed by security guards. It was an interesting insight into the Conservative psyche today. They believe they are entitled to do whatever they want. Rules? They don't play by the rules.

But former Conservative candidate Gary Caldwell exposed the Conservative strategy to exceed their national spending limit by using local budgets. Tsk, tsk.
"I realize that the central party, any party, can give money to the local riding association, but when we examined this further I became convinced that it was only a legitimate local expense if we in fact spent it," he told the Commons ethics committee. " In fact, that was not the case."
No, it was not. It was a national expenditure the federal Conservatives sought to run through local budgets. And that's not playing by the rules like hard working ordinary Canadians now, is it? Federal spending limits mean something. They mean all parties are on a level playing field.

Doug Finley's attempt to muscle the committee into letting him open on behalf of the Conservatives today signals how concerned the Conservatives are with the optics of what they've done with their in-and-out scheme. The intended effect of a Finley opening act? You be the judge as to what Finley and the Conservatives intended:
Doug Finley, who ran the Tories' 2006 election campaign, surprised committee members by showing up two days before he was scheduled to appear - in what seemed to be an orchestrated attempt to create controversy.

Finley then stunned MPs by ignoring requests from Liberal committee chair Paul Szabo to leave and return for his scheduled appearance on Wednesday. Szabo eventually ordered in Commons security guards who escorted Finley from the room.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had warned recently about "Kangaroo court" committee inquiries.

As reporters trailed him down hallways, Finley refused to explain why he could not appear later in the week as the committee had requested. When asked if he would return voluntarily, replied: "Not likely."
Note the effect on the ex-Conservatives testifying today:
Gary Caldwall, the party's candidate in the Quebec riding of Compton-Stanstead, told the committee that once Elections Canada informed him his campaign could not claim $33,000 in expenses for ads arranged by the party, he withdrew his claim for a rebate and later left the party.

He and the former Tory candidate in Labrador - who likewise failed to qualify for $2,000 in expenses for national television advertising - both told the committee that once the affair became public last year party officials warned them not to talk to news media about it.

Shocked by the confrontation between Finley and the committee, Caldwell told the MPs he was "quite frightened" by what happened.
Message well sent by Finley. Do we think Finley was acting in concert with the Prime Minister's instructions today?

Sorry, Harpie and gang, you don't get to run the committee. This is a minority government. Witnesses are called in the order set by the majority of the committee when the committee is prepared to hear from them. Trying to upset the apple cart by telling the committee how to run its affairs, with such a show, quite offensive. It's thuggish.

Not. Majority. Worthy.