Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More on Monday's in-and-out hearings...

Monday was a very damaging day for the Conservatives on the in-and-out front, as the CP report last night made clear. They failed in their efforts to block testimony by former Conservative candidates on the in-and-out scheme which led to Conservative overspending in the 2006 federal election. Instead, 3 former Conservative candidates showed up and dished. And the obstruction related to the 2 Conservative witnesses who did not appear was laid bare. The chair of the committee read out what a witness had advised the clerk, that the Conservatives had told the witness to decline to appear.

Despite that harmful evidence, the Conservatives still wanted to have it both ways. Behind the scenes, likely doing their darnedest to stifle testimony (those witnesses likely didn't make up the Conservative directive, come on). Yet publicly trotting out a staffer to vehemently deny that the Conservatives would ever, ever do such a thing. Leaving us all confused, right? Well, no. It looks like they got caught and they reversed.

So let's take the staffer's green light and run with it. Apparently the two witnesses who declined to appear Monday are now free to do so. So perhaps Szabo and the clerk need to get on the horn and wave them in. I'm sure we'll have no problems from here on in, including with Mr. Finley...the Conservative staffer Baran was so assuring that the Conservatives would never, ever, tell people not to show. So let's see how that works out, shall we?

Then we can re-focus on the really important stuff. Like the following information that illustrates quite clearly the end run the Conservatives did around their national election spending limit last time round:

Joseph Goudie, the defeated Conservative candidate in the riding of Labrador, told the committee his campaign manager was instructed by the chief provincial Tory organizer in the province how the campaign would receive a transfer from the federal party, but the money was not for local advertising.

"She was told it would be part of the national campaign," said Goudie.

He produced affidavits he and his two top campaign assistants gave Elections Canada during its investigation of the ad expenses.

In one of the affidavits, Goudie's official campaign agent explains how provincial organizer Brian Hudson explained how the transfer would work.

"I was told by Mr. Hudson that Mr. Goudie's campaign would be receiving money from the Conservative Party of Canada for advertising," said the affidavit from the agent.

"I thought Mr. Hudson was going to send us money to help out with local advertising but then he said that the money would be coming in to Mr. Goudie's campaign from the Conservative Party of Canada but would be going right back out to the Conservative Party of Canada," said the affidavit, a copy of which Goudie provided to The Canadian Press. (emphasis added)

That, as we well know at this point, is against the rules and no other parties do it. It's irrelevant, as the Conservative talking points still maintain, that it all involved Conservative money so heck, what's the big deal. We've already pointed out what the big deal is...the federal Conservatives targeting unused local budgets across the country by moving funds in-and-out leads to additional untold millions in a national spending advantage for Conservatives. And that's a violation of the equal playing field electoral rules we have.