23 April 2009

Tory-gate: former electoral officer supports spending probe

Paul Reynolds’ predecessor knows that to do.

Former chief electoral officer Chuck Furey says that he’d have appointed a retired judge to investigate the St. Barbe by-election.

Furey, a former Liberal cabinet minister, now lives in Dominica.  Furey was Danny Williams’ pick for the chief electoral officer three years ago.  At the time of Furey’s appointment, Williams’ new release described the OCEO job like this:

The Chief Electoral Officer operates under the Elections Act 1991 and is responsible for exercising general direction and supervision over the administrative conduct of elections and enforcing fairness, impartiality and compliance with the act.

Williams handed the job to former Tory party president Paul Reynolds when Furey resigned. The news release at the time Williams announced Reynolds as his choice  described the office’s responsibilities with exactly the same words.

The release didn’t include Reynolds’ extensive pedigree with the province’s Tory party in the release.

For reasons that should be obvious, Furey’s comments virtually guarantee there won’t be an investigation into campaign finance irregularities in at least one by-election held since 2000.

For reasons that should be even more obvious, Furey’s advice is sound.  In a situation where there is a question of irregularities – especially a question of irregularities involving the party the chief electoral officer is tied to – the most sensible thing to do is call in an independent person and have them sort through the mess.

Anything else – anything else  - gives the controversy legs.

Refusing to investigate, especially using a preposterous series of excuses, just looks suspicious.

After all,  if things really were as innocuous, limited and uneventful as Reynolds claims, then why not have some impartial investigator have a look?

Just don’t look to get Witch-hunt Willie Marshall on the case.  He’s already busy with a sooper- sekrit investigation that he apparently hasn’t finished yet and the government refuses to talk about.