23 April 2009

Tory-gate: Making wrong a right

1. labradore does the usual fine job of documenting the Progressive Conservative Party’s reliance on paid campaign staff.  Note especially the relatively heavy amounts spent in certain districts in certain elections.

Paying staff isn’t the problem.

Paying them with stolen money would be.

Paying them with money improperly obtained (but not stolen) would be especially if that money – as in the St. Barbe case – was never reported publicly as required by law.

No one can claim there were no rules this time out.

2.  The curious nature of former PC party president – and current chief electoral officer – Paul Reynold’s reliance on false information to justify his refusal to investigate the (alleged) election spending wrongdoing.

We know, as an incontrovertible matter of fact, that the election finance reports filed by the Progressive Conservatives for the 2001 by-election are wrong.  Contrary to the Elections Act, 1991, they do not include all party spending on the by-election.

That’s been established in the agreed statement of facts coming out of the recent conviction of former party leader Ed Byrne’s recent conviction for fraud and corruption.

It’s implicit in his curious statement, linked above.

Why they don’t is a matter to be determined.

Then Reynold’s relies on documents he knows to be wrong to justify doing nothing:

The reports filed on behalf of the PC candidate in the 2001 by-election and by the party indicated election expenses totaling $17,362. Even including the amount of $3,000 identified in the statement of facts released with respect to the Ed Byrne criminal proceedings, neither the PC candidate nor the party would have exceeded the legislated expenditure limits for the electoral district in that by-election.

That might be true if we knew that the $3,000 was all the illegal spending involved.

But we don’t.

and we don’t know because Reynolds is refusing to do his job.

In the Byrne case,  we only have a partial accounting of the Byrne case.  We only know where about roughly where $173,000 went when in fact Byrne received the better part of a half million in the years between 2001, 2002, 2003.  Coincidentally, those are the years leading up to the 2003 general election.  There were also a few by-elections in there as well, including the one in St. Barbe which the Provincial Conservatives campaigned so hard to win.

They fought so hard that their new leader – acclaimed the day after the by-election vote – used it as an example of the turning tide of Tory fortunes.  heck, the new leader even spent pretty much all the campaign driving around in his Winnebago campaigning for the party.

But that is digression.

We know how much money went astray in the Byrne case.

We don’t know where it went.

We don’t because the chief electoral officer is using any excuse at his disposal to avoid investigating his old political party.

He said we didn’t need an investigation because they guy that won, won a second time so things must be okay.

Now he’s telling us that documents that he knows are wrong can actually be right, as long as it means he doesn’t have to investigate his old friends.