Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What's really at issue in the ConAir money laundering scandal?

What do you do when you're caught with your hand in the cookie jar? Well, if you're a Blogging Tory, you insist that the jar actually contains crackers, which you're perfectly entitled to, and anyway since the very existence of the cookie jar is a violation of one's right to enjoy cookies, that even if this is a cookie we're holding (although we categorically deny that it is), anyone who says we can't eat it is just trying to make up a scandal.

The Conservatives won the last election largely on the idea that they stood for accountability in politics. But if that's actually what they stand for, they should be holding their own leadership accountable, rather than obfuscating and trying to shift responsibility. That the Tories' conduct was unethical and illegal isn't just something the evil Liberals are making up for partisan gain. There's actual electoral law involved.

Stephen Taylor asks: "Can somebody cite a section of statute or law that has been broken here?"

You bet. The relevant section of the Canada Elections Act is this:

416. (1) No person or entity, other than the chief agent of a registered party or one of its registered agents or a person authorized under subsection 411(1), shall pay the registered party’s expenses.
and the relevant exception is as follows (emphasis mine):

411. (1)(b) the official agent of a candidate, as an expense incurred for the candidate’s electoral campaign;
The ads in question were not designed to promote the candidate. The only thing distinguishing them from the national campaign ads was that the so-called local ads carried the tag line "Paid for by the Official Agent for [Local Candidate]" instead of "Paid for by the Official Agent for the Conservative Party of Canada". But there's no reasonable argument that that change is sufficient to transform a national campaign ad into a local one.

Of course, local candidates benefit from ads promoting their party and their leader. But the same could be said about most aspects of the national campaign. On the same token, one could argue that it's reasonable for local campaigns to chip in for the leader's tour expenses, but even the most hard core of Conservative apologists aren't suggesting that.

Financial mismanagement took place. Either it was a mistake, based on an ill-considered reading of the Elections Act, or it was a deliberate attempt to use a perceived loop-hole to circumvent the campaign spending limits.

Either way, Conservatives who genuinely believe in government accountability, rather than just Liberal bashing, should be demanding that their party's leadership apologise and make recompense.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The naming of a scandal

The cowboys win the day with their name for the Conservative money laundering scandal: ConAir.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Nickname needed

As Kady O'Malley points out, the Conservatives 2006 campaign money laundering scheme doesn't yet have a catchy nickname, with which to capture national attention and invoke public ire.

So bring it on. What should we call this thing? Post your suggestions in the comments, or e-mail me and I'll summarize the best suggestions in a later post.

Only one rule: no name containing the suffix 'gate' will be considered. Anyone submitting suggestions of something-gate will be required to give up their blog and get a job working for a mainstream media outlet.