Friday, September 05, 2008

Elections Canada warns Father Steve: do not overspend this time

I think we all know whom this is directed at: "Elections Canada warns parties on campaign costs." A certain Conservative party that overspent in the last election by approximately $1.3 million dollars with its in-and-out advertising scheme that netted them a ton of extra advertising, above and beyond that of other parties. Father Steve certainly sets quite the example for the families of the nation on playing by the rules, doesn't he?

Subsequently, as the Conservative dispute with Elections Canada proceeded, he had the audacity to direct his government to vote in the House of Commons that they did not have confidence in Elections Canada. That's what Father Steve, gentle soul that he is, does in regard to one of the most fundamental independent institutions of democratic governance in this country. Attacks their very credibility. So Elections Canada must be vigilant in seeking to ensure that the Conservative party will adhere to the rules this time around. Here are the details:
Elections Canada has laid down the law on campaign expenses for the looming federal election as controversy still rages over Conservative advertising spending in the last campaign.

The electoral agency issued a letter this week stating that allowable candidate expenses can only be costs for campaign goods or services that "directly promote or oppose a candidate."

The reminder appears to be aimed at the kind of large-scale radio and television advertising the Conservative party arranged for the 2006 election that led to a Federal Court battle with Elections Canada and an investigation into the expenses.

The letter – to members of an all-party advisory panel that consults with Elections Canada – defines campaign expenses allowed under the Canada Elections Act, the role of candidate agents, and how expenses must be reported.

The letter says expenses and non-monetary contributions must be incurred or received by the candidates.

And it adds: "The property or service for which the expense is incurred, or the non-monetary contribution is received, is used to directly promote or oppose a candidate."
By way of response, one of the unelected hires and charter member of the league of junior Conservative television announcers assures us:
A Conservative spokesman did not respond directly to the contents of the letter.

"The Conservative party will follow the Election Act," said spokesman Ryan Sparrow.
I take that assurance to mean absolutely nothing. In fact, I would anticipate a full-on blow out of election spending restrictions should the Conservatives ever win a majority.