Thursday, September 06, 2007

Conservative Adscam

I wish I could take credit for that title term but it appears John Ivison coined it first.

Regardless of what you call it, this certainly strikes me as a newsworthy issue. For those unfamiliar, Jason Cherniak has a fairly detailed breakdown, complete with snazzy graphs and everything. The short of it is that the Tories had some fun with the accounting books, by shuffling money from the party to the local ridings, allowing them to break the spending limits and get larger refunds from Elections Canada.

Predictably, Conservatives have lept forward to defend themselves, the most common line appearing to be "it's not as bad as Adscam". I love this one since it's pretty much akin to saying "the last guy who held my job was fired for fraud, so I should be allowed to take a piss in the lunchroom". Hell, why didn't Martin just bring up the Pacific Scandal during the good old Liberal Adscam days to explain things away?

Another fun arguments I've heard is "it's just like Tim Hortons!" Because, you know, like, all the individuals chains, like, pay for those national inspirational ads about fathers and sons and soliders and puppies bonding together over Tim Hortons. Which is a valid point, because I can't remember Elections Canada ever going after Tim Hortons for breaking the election financing laws.

Now, in fairness, making fun of the arguments put forward by Tory bloggers isn't really fair - I should be looking to the official party position. Pierre Pollievre has brought forward the case that it's a freedom on speech argument. Basically, the Conservative Party is admitting they broke the rules but that the rules are unfair because there shouldn't be spending limits during campaigns. Yes, this from the party that brought you an Accountability Act with donation limits of $1,000 per person. An Accountability Act that was completely quiet on spending limits. Hmm...

Now, from my perspective, a few things seem fairly obvious:


1. These were obviously national ads. I'm sorry, but font size 3 white writing on a yellow background at the end of the ad, does not make it a local ad.

2. This danced around the rules. At least in the eyes of Elections Canada it did and they seem to be the ones best suited to judge this.

3. Even though this may not be the most sinister conspiracy ever perpetrated on the Canadian people, it still looks dirty to me and the Tories deserve to get some flack for it. And, yes, even those evil Liberals who brought you Adscam should be able to criticize them for it.

4. Had it been the Liberals who had done this, they'd have been crucified by Ivison, Pollievre, and the media as a whole. That's just the way it is and the double standard is reversed when it comes to things like abortion comments, but it's still there.

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16 Comments:

  • I think Jason needs to take a cold shower because he is obsessing about this non issue that precisely nobody but political junkies gives a rat's ass about. Yep the Tories are dicks for doing it, but they weren't the government of the day as the Liberals were in Adscam and public money wasn't used. Because public money wasn't used, this is, what's the term I am thinking of? Oh, "a fart in the breeze."

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 8:13 PM  

  • It still suggests a contempt for the rule of law, which is (a) something Conservatives are supposed to be in favour of and (b) a slippery slope argument. If the Conservatives aren't going to respect laws regarding campaign finance, the legitimate question that forms in voters' minds is: what other laws are they going to fail to respect?

    Think for a minute how the AdScamming Liberals got into this mess. It took them thirteen years. That the Conservatives are showing signs of breaking the law _now_ is disturbing. How will things be a year or more down the road?

    By Blogger James Bow, at 8:43 PM  

  • Curiously, it involves about $ 1 million in public money which the conservatives are attempting to steel from the Canadian Taxpayer.

    By Blogger Stephen, at 8:45 PM  

  • The part I love most is the way Harper is essentially blaming the law for his party breaking it. Um, last time I looked, they were the government -- shouldn't they campaign on changing the law if they hate it that much? And then actually change it before they ignore it?

    By Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist, at 9:33 PM  

  • It's not an issue to me, really -- though certainly it's hypocritical, no doubt. And absolutely, Harper and Kenney et al would be thundering and brimstoning if the Liberals did it.

    It's cheap hypocrisy, and I should be more upset about it - but I'm getting more cynical as time goes by, and I just expect this sort of thing. I suppose that I'm simply preoccupied by other, larger political issues to get upset over it.

    James Bow is right: a slippery slope argument. If the Conservatives aren't going to respect laws regarding campaign finance... what other laws are they going to fail to respect?

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 10:01 PM  

  • Public Money was used for this scandal. They attempted to obtain rebates from elections canada from national funds that were improperly transferred.

    By Blogger BenParsons, at 3:42 AM  

  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't even think most Liberals care about this thing ...

    I know Cherniak probably dreams about it at night, but is the rank-and-file really all that upset about it?

    Conversely, would non-partisan hack Conservatives be up in arms if the Liberals did it? Sure it's a bit dishonest, but really ... it's not an earth-shattering scandal.

    To me, this has no traction outside of Ottawa and Ottawa-centric circles.

    Try explaining it to Soccer Mom Janet in Oakville, Ont. and I doubt she listens for more than a minute.

    But maybe Cherniak's sexy graphic would turn some heads ...

    By Blogger reporterbrock, at 9:43 AM  

  • This is the ONLY thing that people in my office are talking about around the water cooler.

    This issue has clawed it's way into the psyche of Canadians and is holding on like a bad dog on an old chewed boot.

    Always read the fine print!

    By Blogger Amanda, at 10:42 AM  

  • >>This issue has clawed it's way into the psyche of Canadians and is holding on like a bad dog on an old chewed boot.<<

    Yer kidding right? I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry at that statement because, you know, with Canadian soldiers getting blown up by roadside bombs and apocalyptic nightmare scenarios of planet earth boiling in it's own stew of global warming armageddon, or you know, wait times at the hospital.

    Just sayin...

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 10:49 AM  

  • "but they weren't the government of the day as the Liberals were in Adscam and public money wasn't used. Because public money wasn't used..."

    You obviously did not read the post before you wrote this. What part of "Adscam is not an excuse" did you not understand.

    Public money is exactly what is at stake here - the conservatives applied to Elections Canada for a rebate of 60% of this misspent money. In other words, the conservatives expect the taxpayers to give somwhere in the range of $600,000.00 back to their ridings in order to fund the next election campaign, on the false premise that local campaigns spent 1,000,000.00 on this advertising campaign.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 10:52 AM  

  • sean-

    I'm totally kidding.

    Where Paris Hilton partied at last night has more traction that the "conservative adscam".

    This is a dead and deader issue.

    By Blogger Amanda, at 10:53 AM  

  • "This is a dead and deader issue."

    You might be correct, though I seem to recall the same thing being said about Adscam...

    By Blogger Gayle, at 10:58 AM  

  • This is a real issue, and one which has the possibility of good traction.

    It shows the holier than thou Tories knowingly defrauding the taxpayer of about $780,000 -- which is not a small amount of money.

    Dion and Co. will have to show their stuff by bringing this into national prominence.

    By Blogger Stephen, at 7:23 PM  

  • This is a real issue, and one which has the possibility of good traction.

    While I agree with James Bow's earlier points, whole-heartedly, this just isn't a real issue to most people. They just don't understand it - it's like a tax form to them.

    the holier than thou Tories

    Oh, grow up - all the parties are just as holier than thou. No difference between Harper and Layton and Dion (or Duceppe and May) on this one. Empty, pointless rhetoric - yawn.

    Dion and Co. will have to show their stuff by bringing this into national prominence.

    As someone else said earlier - with a war and global warming, they'd do better to "show their stuff" on real issues rather than this. Face it - Canadians find this one too dull and overly complex (even if it is completely wrong of the Tories).

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 12:04 AM  

  • This is really disturbing to me personally, but quite frankly is it all that unexpected? The Tories have shown themselves quite willing to walk very very close to the legal line and it appears this time they slipped over it.

    Will this matter? No. But that doesn't change the fact that it is wrong.

    By Blogger SouthernOntarioan, at 1:11 PM  

  • I still dont like the liberal party.

    By Anonymous satin shirt, at 8:43 AM  

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