And if you're a fan of the sideshow, he doesn't disappoint. But I don't think he's going to be able spin his party out of this one.
The Federal Appeal Court has ruled against the Conservatives in the so-called "in and out" financing case, in which cash was transferred between local Tory riding associations and the national party during the 2006 election.This puts into question their validity as a government. Something that many others have questioned since this story first broke over two years ago.
Elections Canada says the Conservative Party of Canada violated campaign financing rules by moving $1.3 million in and out of 67 ridings to pay for national ads. The manoeuvres allowed the party to exceed the campaign spending limits and allowed candidates to claim rebates on expenses that weren't actually incurred, the agency said. The ruling Conservatives won a lower court case on the rebates issue last year, but Elections Canada appealed.
Some media faithfuls are bringing up the sponsorship scandal but there is a big difference. The Liberals themselves called for an investigation, allowing the Conservatives to use the resulting Gomery Report in attack ads. And no elected official was involved, only bureaucrats, many of whom were hired by Brian Mulroney.
By contrast, Stephen Harper himself has continually hindered the investigation, preferring to instead launch an attack on Elections Canada. Yes he sued them when he was with the National Citizens Coalition, because they said corporate funded AstroTurf groups could not spend unlimited amounts of money to engineer an election. It's undemocratic.
And this is not an "accounting" argument as little PP would like us to believe. It was a scam. Or as one Conservative candidate, David Marler, who refused to take part, called it in his book Sixty-Six Said Yes: "money laundering".
This also involved many elected officials including cabinet ministers. The list includes Conservative MPs:
Maxime Bernier: Beauce
Sylvie Boucher: Beauport-Limoilou
Daniel Petit: Charlesbourg-Haute-Saint-Charles
Jacques Gourde: Lotbiniere-Chutes-de-la-Chaudiere
Dick Harris: Cariboo-Prince George
Jim Abbott: Kootenay-Columbia
David Anderson: Cypress Hills-Grasslands
Ron Cannan: Kelowna-Lake Country
Colin Mayes: Okanagan-Shuswap
Pat Davidson: Sarnia-Lambton
Cabinet Ministers who took part:
Stockwell Day: Okanagan-Coquihalla
Josee Verner: Louis-Saint-Laurent
Christian Paradis: Megantic-L'Erable
Lawrence Cannon: Pontiac
Jay Hill: Prince George-Peace River (now retired)
And when a committee was established to investigate the "accounting" issue, Stephen Harper told witnesses to ignore subpoenas and then simply shut the committee down.
Later there was a question whether or not the 17 Conservative MPs would be able to vote on the throne speech, but again, Harper abused his power and told them to vote anyway. Elections Canada was powerless until they could first lay charges, something Harper used every trick in the book to avoid happening.
If Elections Canada did exercise that power in this dispute, however, it would mean that as many as 17 MPs – including Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier, Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon and Heritage Minister Josée Verner, as well as chief party whip Jay Hill – would all be ineligible to vote on the throne speech.Went right to the partisan attack suggesting that the Liberals were behind the whole thing. How insulting to Elections Canada, an agency that is well respected worldwide, even being invited to oversee elections in other countries with fragile democracies. I'm glad they are now being given an opportunity to clear their themselves.
The Tories shut down a Commons committee that tried to look into the controversy this month. "We do not respond to false allegations from the Liberal party," spokesperson Ryan Sparrow said yesterday.
And according to Bruce Cheadle: Tory election allegations ‘illegal’ not administrative, prosecutor says
A spokesman for the Director of Public Prosecutions said the charges relate to allegations of “illegal activity.” The four Conservative Party officials, Dan Brien said, “are not charged under the Criminal Code. They are Elections Act offences that are alleged. It's still illegal activity.”Illegal activity. Not "administrative". Not an "accounting error". Illegal activity. The MPs, including cabinet ministers, and the two senators should step down. We are still paying their salaries, and they are still voting on important bills that affect Canadians.
They have no validity.