Monday, April 11, 2011

October Surprise

Outside of the NHL's playoff schedule, we haven't had many outside events impact this election. Until today:


Tories misled Parliament on G8 spending: Auditor-General

The Harper government misinformed Parliament to win approval for a $50-million G8 fund that lavished money on dubious projects in a Conservative riding, the Auditor-General has concluded.

And she suggests the process by which the funding was approved may have been illegal.

The findings are contained in a confidential report Sheila Fraser was to have tabled in Parliament on April 5. The report analyzed the $1-billion cost of staging last June's G8 summit in Ontario cottage country and a subsequent gathering of G20 leaders in downtown Toronto.


Even though all four parties have called for the final report to be made public, as per procedure, it cannot be released until Parliament resumes post-election.

John Baird assures us that the second draft he's seen is glowing in its praise of the Harper government. That must have been one heck of a re-write - my guess is Baird is either full of it, or he read the draft after Bev Oda had been through with it. After all, if there's a draft out there that praises the government, I can't for the life of me imagine it not getting leaked.

As for what it means to the campaign, it's hard to say. It certainly gives Ignatieff ammo heading into the debates, and gives him an entry-point to revive the G20 waste issues. Whenever Harper talks about being a prudent fiscal manager, all Ignatieff has to do is point to million dollar fake lakes and gazebos.

Beyond that, I'm skeptical this is a game-changer. After all, we already knew the G20 was a boondoggle and this hole election was triggered because the Tories misled Parliament. This isn't new. Still, a scandal about wasting taxpayer dollars is a lot more relevant to voters than who or what Bruce Carson may have been doing after leaving Harper's inner circle.

Stay tuned.

18 Comments:

  • From the Sheila Fraser's office:

    We will not release or comment on our audit report on the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund. Under the Auditor General Act, we can only present reports when Parliament is sitting. The Office of the Audit General of Canada remains the custodian of its reports until they are presented to the Speaker of the House of Commons for tabling.

    I strongly caution the public to wait until our final report on the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund has been tabled in Parliament and made public.

    We work very hard to keep our reports confidential before they are tabled. There are indications that an early draft of this report may have been released by someone outside our Office. Our normal audit process requires that we share early drafts of our reports with government departments. We do this so they can validate the facts on which our conclusions are based, provide any additional relevant information, and so they can prepare responses to our recommendations. Sometimes during the process of fact validation, additional information is brought to our attention. Only the final report that is tabled in Parliament represents our audit findings and conclusions.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 2:53 PM  

  • Might be a game changer, but I doubt it.

    So far all I’m reading into this is the government funneled money into Clement’s riding and it may or may not have been illegal but that its up to Parliament to decide. This isn't, for example, anywhere in the same universe as someone getting a paper bag filled with taxpayer money in a hotel room - that kind of visual is something Canadians go ballistic over. But dumping money into a riding to win votes? That’s “how to get reelected 101″ Liberals did it when they were in power and now it’s the Conservatives turn. It’s why CF-18 contracts went to Quebec instead of Winnipeg. It’s why there’s a lot of road construction in certain ridings right now that have a lot of pot holes.

    Sorry, I just don’t see the scandal in this, because this is just another government in a series of federal governments that raises blowing our money to an art form. Will have to watch the polls and see, I guess.

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 2:58 PM  

  • The Liberals are far too clever to force an election when things are as bleak as the number suggest.

    As hosertohoosier suggested, there must be a big bombshell coming.

    I'm wondering - is this it? If so, I tend to agree with CG, it doesn't look or feel like a game changer. We know they screwed up the conference. We know they're unethical.

    It's not enough.

    Then again, who knows.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 3:07 PM  

  • Sorry, I just don’t see the scandal in this, because this is just another government in a series of federal governments that raises blowing our money to an art form.

    Hey, if we don't give the parties that do this a time-out, how will they learn that this is wrong? We can't blame them if we're not willing to do something about this. It's a democracy afterall.

    By Blogger sharonapple88, at 3:14 PM  

  • Geez Sean that is word for word what you said @ Kinsella. Cut n paste much?

    By Blogger Gene Rayburn, at 3:14 PM  

  • " . . . and this hole election was triggered because . . ."

    Freudian Slip?

    By Blogger Traciatim, at 3:18 PM  

  • I do think this is the October surprise the Liberals planned (after all, the story was leaked just in time to ask Harper questions during the election). I also think it has the potential to do some damage, though maybe not enough to turn the election.

    The story has a dollar sign, a fair number of zeros, the auditor-general's stamp of semi-approval and a potential violation of the law... and its not like reporters have anything more interesting to talk about (and it is media frenzies, not facts, that make a scandal).

    Plus the opposition leaders get 75% of two debates this week to make it an issue (and they've certainly tried to prime Canadians for this moment), even if it isn't. Polls tightened during the G-8 spending debacle - and then it wasn't being painted as an issue of criminal wrongdoing.

    It will also be difficult for Harper to kill the story, if the press picks it up. Canadians think he is a competent Prime Minister, but they don't trust him. He can't let the auditor-general exonerate him, because she is unable to report in an official capacity. With a thin platform and a closed campaign, it may be tough for Harper to change the channel.

    Of course, it is hard to call which scandals will have an impact. The Alberta pipeline scandal was about 8 million, Turner's patronage appointments probably not much more, while the mother of all scandals - Watergate - was more about the cover-up than the crime itself.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 3:43 PM  

  • Sorry, but the timing of this just stinks. If any of the opposition parties knew of this draft beforehand and deliberately kept it until the day before the debates, that's more unethical than anything this government has done.

    By Blogger jad, at 3:45 PM  

  • The Liberals have been trying to push this story for a week.

    Shela Fraser also came out pretty fast and strong against the conclusions being drawn by the press and condemned the leak as politically motivated.

    Also. It's old news. We know about this spending already. It's no October surprise.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:58 PM  

  • jad - It seems timed to coincide with the debates...so likely someone was sitting on it.

    But this stuff happens all the time. The NDP knew the Liberal candidate in Manicouagan had a checkered past, but only waited until the day after he filled his papers to release the story.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:59 PM  

  • So we are supposed to get excited about something some reporter supposedly saw that they shouldn't have? If reporters had been creating balanced work for the past two weeks while covering the election, I would say it might have some legs. Truth is, Canadians have seen the media do everything they could to put the CPC in a bad light. I can't imagine they will put much stock in this. The AG herself has basically taken the wind out of these sails by her comments this afternoon.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:05 PM  

  • ... only to put more wind back in those sails by pointing out that her praise of the efficiency of gov't spending on the G8/G20 summit (as cited in a Conservative dissenting opinion to a Parliamentary committee report) was cut and pasted from her praise of the Liberal government's spending post-9/11:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/story/2011/04/11/cv-election-weston-ag-fraser.html

    By Blogger ajbeecroft, at 4:28 PM  

  • There were a lot of "game changers" in the Toronto mayoral election as well. Ironically, the game didn't get changed in favour of the media's "preferred" candidate.

    The media's been doing a hatchet job on the CPC this election - running with ridiculous side shows just like they did with Ford. Now they've got something a little more substantial. But has their incessant shock-and-awe campaign caused the electorate to tune out?

    By Blogger Patrick, at 4:44 PM  

  • just another government in a series of federal governments that raises blowing our money to an art form

    Yeah...

    It's wrong, and it frustrates me.

    What's the option, though? A party that won't abuse public money to win friends and influence people? I don't see one on my ballot...

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 4:53 PM  

  • >>Hey, if we don't give the parties that do this a time-out, how will they learn that this is wrong? We can't blame them if we're not willing to do something about this. It's a democracy afterall.<<

    The know it's wrong before they even go into it. Nothing will change because our expectations as voters are set really low.

    Re: Gene - Yes, cut and paste is a really cool function.

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 5:02 PM  

  • "What's the option, though? A party that won't abuse public money to win friends and influence people? I don't see one on my ballot..."

    Ah, but between the Tories and Liberals you have your choice of the TYPE of abuse you'll get.

    Liberal scandals tend to involve straight-up bilking of money, eg. Alberta pipeline, Turner's patronage appointments, Adscam or Charest's nominations for hire. That is possibly the Quebec Liberal party outsourced itself to the mafia. Tory scandals, on the other hand, are usually about diverting taxpayer funds in a desperate attempt to get re-elected.

    Oh, and don't let those starched collars fool you - from the Munsinger Affair to Bernier's Briefs (and hey, Mulroney did meet with Karlheinz Schreiber in a hotel) - the Tories are your best bet for racy scandals.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 5:12 PM  

  • Ah, but between the Tories and Liberals you have your choice of the TYPE of abuse you'll get.


    Brilliant, H2H, as always... ;)

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 7:19 PM  

  • At the very least, unless the Canadian population is completely tuned out (I'm not putting it past them), this should be enough to curtail talk of a majority government. It should be enough for a chunk of voters to question what sort of lagress the Conservatives would do with a majority.

    Perhaps I'm giving the electorate too much credit. My sister, who is as liberal as they come wouldn't vote Liberal because Iggy isn't a true Canadian and is heading back to Harvard after this election.

    As for the timing, that's politics. Conservatives and their supporters have been use to the timing of things going their way for awhile now, no use getting all upset when the shoe is on the other foot.

    By Blogger Mark, at 9:15 AM  

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