Saturday, January 10, 2009

RCMP investigating Conservatives for Wheat Board election interference

The Conservatives' tenuous relationship with the law continues: "Probe launched into claims Tory MPs interfered in Wheat Board vote."
The RCMP are investigating allegations Conservative MPs interfered with Canadian Wheat Board director elections, the National Farmers Union said yesterday.

The RCMP said in a news release it's probing complaints from the NFU alleging that a voters list for the Wheat Board was improperly accessed and used by unauthorized people.

An RCMP spokeswoman would not elaborate, but the union says Conservative members of Parliament used the voters list to send letters to farmers.

"In the Canadian Wheat Board elections that were run just before Christmas at the end of 2008, five Conservative MPs sent out letters ... telling farmers how to vote and who to vote for," NFU president Stewart Wells said.
Applicable provisions:
9. (1) No person may use the voters list for any purpose other than that of conducting an election campaign.

Offences
(2) Every person is guilty of an offence who
...
(c) contravenes or omits to comply with this Act or any regulation or order.

Punishment
(3) Every person who is guilty of an offence under subsection (2) is liable on summary conviction
...
(c) in any other case, to a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both.
Among the Conservative MP's under scrutiny, David Anderson, parliamentary secretary for the Canadian Wheat Board who apparently is under the belief that in this position he should apply pressure to farmers to choose certain candidates. Didn't occur to him that as parliamentary secretary he should maintain a position of neutrality.

It sounds like the Conservatives are relying upon other provisions of the regulations on the voters list, likely section 7 regarding the list of voters being made publicly available. That section, however, contradicts the ban in section 9 above that prohibits use of the list "for any purpose other than that of conducting an election campaign." Candidates conduct election campaigns, not parliamentary secretaries.

Looking forward to the RCMP's investigation on this one.