Christian Conservative Christian "Independent"

I'm an evangelical Christian, member of the CPC, but presently & unjustly exiled to wander the political wilderness.
All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Is Elections Canada changing the rules after the big game?

What's this? It's starting to look like Elections Canada did in fact attempt to change their guidelines for local election advertising, but for some reason they're trying to apply the new rules RETROACTIVLY? What's up with that?
Hansard, April 29 2008, 2:50pm
Mr. Pierre Poilievre: "Mr. Speaker, the 2005 election handbook for candidates states:

Election advertising means the transmission to the public by any means during an election period of an advertising message that promotes or opposes a registered party or the election of a candidate....

In other words, local ads can focus on the candidate or the party. However, after the election was over, Elections Canada suddenly changed the rules to delete “registered party” ensuring that only advertising focused on the local candidate would be allowed to be expensed locally. It cannot change the rules after the game is over."

Hansard, April 29 2008, 3:09pm
Mr. Pierre Poilievre: "Mr. Speaker, I mentioned earlier in the House of Commons today that Elections Canada has attempted to change the rules around what qualifies for a local advertisement.

I quoted the old rules that were contained in the 2005 “Election Handbook for Candidates, Their Official Agents and Auditors”, which I concluded--and I would like to table--"

[interuption]

Mr. Pierre Poilievre: Mr. Speaker, to that end, I would like to support the case made in the House of Commons by tabling, in both official languages, Elections Canada's handbook for candidates, the version that was written in 2005, and the version that was subsequently altered by Elections Canada in 2007 after this recent dispute with the Conservative Party came to light.
h/t to DBT for Pierre's quotes.

So, here's the big question for everyone... is the umpire allowed to move the foul line AFTER the game winning double has been hit?

This is a HUGE deal... I'm looking for the 2005 manual to see for myself, and post the relevant section... but in the meantime take a look at this NEWLY REWORDED SECTION OF THE CANDIDATE'S MANUAL from Elections Canada... DATED MARCH 1, 2007.
Election advertising

Election advertising means the transmission to the public by any means during an
election period of an advertising message that promotes or opposes a candidate, including one that takes a position on an issue with which a registered party or candidate is associated. Election advertising includes articles such as billboards, bus signs, pamphlets, lawn signs, flyers, stickers, lapel buttons or pins, T-shirts and caps, among others. [319]

Identification of election advertising

All election advertising that promotes or opposes a candidate, including taking a position on an issue with which a registered party or candidate is associated, must indicate who authorized it (e.g. if promoting or opposing a candidate in his or her own electoral district, it must be authorized by the official agent of the candidate). [320]

For example, a pamphlet promoting candidate Jane Brown should display the
following message: Authorized by the official agent of Jane Brown.
But hang on just one second... this is the HANDBOOK, NOT the actual legislation.

So, pray tell, what does the actual Elections Act define as "advertising"?
319. The definitions in this section apply in this Part.

"election advertising" means the transmission to the public by any means during an election period of an advertising message that promotes or opposes a registered party or the election of a candidate, including one that takes a position on an issue with which a registered party or candidate is associated.

Election Advertising

Message must be authorized

320. A candidate or registered party, or a person acting on their behalf, who causes election advertising to be conducted shall mention in or on the message that its transmission was authorized by the official agent of the candidate or by the registered agent of the party, as the case may be.

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19 Comments:

  • At Fri May 02, 12:49:00 PM EDT, Blogger Ardvark said…

    The more information that comes out about this, the more I feel that the court case is going to be a slam dunk for the CPC.

     
  • At Fri May 02, 01:20:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Unfortunately, I think the point is being missed.

    I feel insulted that EC thinks money can buy my vote, therefore they need to control election spending.

    Mike Wisniewski

     
  • At Fri May 02, 01:51:00 PM EDT, Blogger Christian Conservative said…

    So then Mike, let's change the rules moving forward so it doesn't happen again! But the problem is that you've missed my point... YOU CAN'T CHANGE THE RULES AFTER THE FACT AND THEN TRY TO APPLY THEM RETROACTIVLY!

     
  • At Fri May 02, 02:49:00 PM EDT, Blogger Socially Active said…

    If people are too lazy to carefully consider the evidence, they simply believe what they want to believe.

    Harper is not stupid. In fact I would say he is a brilliant right wing leader that many aspire to.

    Because he realizes it doesn’t really matter how/why someone is elected, if they are allowed to bind independent review and hide their crimes.

    My question to the Conservative bloggers who believe Elections Canada should not carry out their mandate to actively enforce fair electioneering by all Parties within Canada. I am not asking why you voted Conservative. I respectfully agree and disagree with many Conservatives. It is just the direction Harper has taken the Conservatives that makes me so sick!!! I am asking why you want to believe a lie. A lie is an untruth where someone purposely miss leads and bares false witness to events. The event is channelling advertising money throw a local ridings as to purposely violate election spending limits as clearly stated.


    Are you simply lazy? You have deep idealogical commitment to the destruction of democracy, by destroying the frame work of fair elections. Is it because accepting that you have been lied to, makes you feel a shamed of yourself and you don't want to be shamed.

     
  • At Fri May 02, 03:21:00 PM EDT, Blogger Lord Kitchener's Own said…

    I continue to believe that most conservative bloggers are THOROUGHLY missing the point. The CPC isn't in trouble for spending money on advertising. They're not in trouble for buying local advertising with money transfered to the local candidates from the national party. They're not in trouble for the content of the advertising.

    They're in trouble for exceeding the national spending limit and trying to cover that up by making it LOOK LIKE local candidates bought advertising with the money. The question isn't "what was the nature of the advertising that was purchased" or "where did the money to purchase the advertising come from", it's really "did the local campaigns buy advertising" and the answer in many cases is OBVIOUSLY no.

    Tory candidates and their agents (TORIES) are on record saying that they never saw the ads (before they aired), they never approved ads, never asked to buy ads, were never invoiced for ads, never heard of the company that produced the ads until Elections candidates asked why they had submitted invoices for the ads (which they didn't actually submit... the national party did) and in some cases Tories ACTIVELY REFUSED THE ADS AND COMPLAINED BITTERLY WHEN THEY AIRED ANYWAY.

    All many Tories knew was that some money was going to appear and then disappear from their accounts and they "shouldn't worry about it". That's not "buying ads" that's "making it SEEM as though you bought ads in order to circumvent spending limits". The problem for the Tories isn't the Liberals, or the NDP, or the Bloc, or Elections Canada, it's the TORIES' OWN CANDIDATES saying "I didn't spend that money", "Don't reimburse me for that money as it wasn't part of my campaign, and I had nothing to do with it" and "I asked for those ads not to air because they'd hurt me in my riding, I told them I didn't want to pay for them, and they STILL transfered the money in and out of my account and sent Elections Canada invoices on my behalf".

    Tory arguments on this scandal are all half right. What the national party APPEARS to have done in conjunction with the local candidates is perfectly legal. The whole point of the scandal is that IT'S ALL A MIRAGE. They were making it LOOK LIKE local candidates were buying advertising, even in cases where local candidates were vocally refusing the ads and were LIVID after the fact that not only did the ads air anyway, but invoices were sent to Elections Canada on their behalf for supposedly "buying the ads".

    The CPC's problem is NOT that local candidates bought ads with money transfered to them from the national party. The problem is that the DIDN'T.

     
  • At Fri May 02, 03:31:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    CC, I get your point. Believe it or not, (I can't believe I'm saying this myself) I AGREE with you on your point. I just want people to understand that when EC thinks they have some god-given right to know a candidate or parties' spending practices, they are saying that people's votes can be bought. Therefore, vote-buying needs to be regulated, according to EC.

    At the end of the day, if a candidate is unqualified, even if they spend $1 billion on their campaign, they should lose, AND if people are stupid enough to be swayed by money, well...

    people get the gov't they deserve, right?

    Mike Wisniewski

     
  • At Fri May 02, 03:34:00 PM EDT, Blogger wilson said…

    '...The event is channelling advertising money throw a local ridings as to purposely violate election spending limits as clearly stated...'

    So, socially active, if the Cons had not reached their limit, you are saying the In and Out practice is legal...right?

    So if the national level sent each riding there limit shortfall at the beginning of a campaign, ad details t.b.a., that would be ok?
    Doesn't that describe the Bloc In and Out?

    '....It is just the direction Harper has taken the Conservatives that makes me so sick!!!...'

    Then by all means, don't vote for him, donate to another party, go tell Red Tory or Big City Lib.

    You are making yourself sick over something you can't control,
    what other people think.

     
  • At Fri May 02, 03:44:00 PM EDT, Blogger Christian Conservative said…

    Hey LKO, I've only heard complaints about the ad buy from one or two ridings, and that's simply because people either weren't paying attention, or they've been scared by the heavey-handed tactics being used by Elections Canada... but I'll acknowledge that I have in fact heard that. For the record, the folks in our riding were well aware of the program, even though we didn't participate. If even we knew what was going on, how is it possible that the folks who participated didn't?

    SA, I'm actually strongly supportive of EC enforcing our laws... my problem is with the way they're trying to apply a new interpretation retroactively, and in so doing, unfairly punishing only one party.

    If it's a loophole that needs to be changed, then it's something that ought to come via recommended changes to the legislation, NOT by seeking to apply a new set of rules to the previous election.

    I think you'd find that such an ammendment to the Elections Act would easily pass in this current minority parliament.

     
  • At Fri May 02, 03:54:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You screwed up socially Active when you wrote ((My question to the Conservative bloggers who believe Elections Canada should not carry out their mandate to actively enforce fair electioneering (by all Parties) within Canada.))BY ALL PATIES got you in big trouble.BECAUSE THE GD EC is not carrying out their mandate to actively enforce fair electioneering.They are investigating one party,the Conservatives who are doing the same in and out as the other parties did only they did it better.And that is why this vendetta by EC against the Conservatives.Because they made EC look like the fools that they are and were suing them.So EC stole all this material falsely and they stole the court case material also and other election strategy material that was none of their GD business.And they are trying to retroactively make the Conservatives follow new rules.Socially Active you have to get away from the Liberals for awhile to learn the truth.Being so close to Liberals who as you know never tell the truth you will never ever know the beauty of the truth.Give any Conservative a call and we will hold an intervention for you.

     
  • At Fri May 02, 03:54:00 PM EDT, Blogger wilson said…

    '...I told them I didn't want to pay for them, and they STILL transfered the money in and out of my account..'

    lord kitchener's own,
    you are saying that someone in the national party can move money OUT of a riding bank account without the riding knowledge or approval?

    How did the riding account for the in and out transactions in the bank account? As advertising?

    Did someone at the national level also file to EC on behalf of the riding without their knowledge?

     
  • At Fri May 02, 04:18:00 PM EDT, Blogger Socially Active said…

    Thank you LKO, for the excellent summary.

    CC, attempting to exploit a loophole which may not exist and is outside the intent of the law, is a best risky. As Stephen Harper discovered with his supreme court election spending case. I don't have the link or paper work at hand. So I can't speak to the details.

    CC & Wilson, I do respect that many Conservatives honestly won, because there were the better candidate. And that is how it should be.

    wilson, the reason it makes me sick is there are many Conservatives who don't support these tactics. I am neither Liberal or Conservative, but instead stand for justice and worthy causes.

     
  • At Fri May 02, 04:20:00 PM EDT, Blogger Lord Kitchener's Own said…

    Wilson,

    I'm just going by what I've read (a lot of it from sworn depositions related to the search warrant):

    "Ms. Vallieres (the official agent for the candidate in Richmond-Arthabaska) stated that she did not enter into a contract with any media company for this media buy advertising nor did she provide written authorization to anyone else to incur costs on behalf of the campaign."

    "Ms. Sodenberg (official agent for Mr. Halicki) stated that she has no knowledge whatsoever of Retail Media. She went on to state. '... I had contacted the Conservative Party in Ottawa and was re-assured that this was OK. As a bookkeeper I know that sometimes you have to use creative accounting between two small companies, but I found this move was being a little too creative.'"

    "Mr. McDonald (official agent for the candidate in Winnipeg North) said, 'I do seem to recall a wash in and out of our account. I do seem to recall an entry of $6,500 and then it was taken out again. This is what I mean by a wash. It meant $0 for me in my calculation of the cost of the campaign."

    "I note, in reviewing one such ad (Appendix 9), that the official agent for Mr. Don Gillis, the Conservative Party of Canada candidate for the electoral district of Cardigan (Prince Edward Island), is mentioned in the 'tag line' of the ad ... as having authorized media buy advertising. Mr. Gillis is not one of the 67 candidates identified as being part of the media buy. The Gillis campaign did not report to Elections Canada having financially participated in such advertising."

    "The e-mails indicate that the local campaign appeared to have no knowledge of the advertising taking place in the district, although the electoral district is recorded as having participated in the media buy."

    "I was told by Mr. Andrew Kumpf of Retail Media that no contract exists between Retail Media and any candidate."

    "Executives of Retail Media did not recognize the one invoice shown to them ... as coming from their company."

    And all of that's just in the first 60 of 700 pages that EC filed with the courts.

    Maybe it'll all amount to nothing, but I wouldn't be as confident as the Tories seem to be in public.

     
  • At Fri May 02, 04:31:00 PM EDT, Blogger Lord Kitchener's Own said…

    Also, Wilson,

    On the money going out of the accounts, I'd imagine in many cases the local campaigns DID transfer the money back to the party right away (because the party told them too) but this doesn't equal them "buying advertising". I rather imagine most candidates trusted in the integrity of the national party. After all, their whole electoral campaign was based on their superior integrity. So, when they were told "Some money's going to be transfered into your account for campaign expenses but we need you to transfer it right back to the party, and don't worry about it" they just did as they were told. Again, this doesn't make it "buying ads", for the candidates it's just "returning money back to the party because they told me to". And for the party, it could very well mean "making it look like the candidate 'bought ads' when they did nothing of the sort".

    Now, Tories view the relative silence of so many candidates as proof that they don't think they did anything wrong. I view that silence more as either "discipline" (the national party told me to keep my mouth shut, and so I'll keep my mouth shut) or "fear" (I had no idea that money they transferred in and out of my account went to buy ads. I'd better not answer any questions unless I'm called to testify).

    Of course, this is why we have courts and search warrants and independent (internationally respected) elections monitoring agencies.

     
  • At Fri May 02, 04:37:00 PM EDT, Blogger Socially Active said…

    Honestly, The fact that this happened doesn't bother me nearly as much as Harper's Conservatives reaction.

    Anonymous, If the Conservatives are not guilty why are they suing investigator's rather than simply providing the information requested. Why shouldn't election accounts and spending be public records?

     
  • At Fri May 02, 04:54:00 PM EDT, Blogger Mark Francis said…

    If a local campaign did not specifically okay a media buy done in its name, then it's a violation of the Act. Nevermind the content of the ad, or how money was moved around. In such a case it is purely a central campaign expenditure, and the central campaign was already at its legal spending limit, and thus could not spend more.

    Next, having a local campaign okay a central media buy for an ad which is nationally focussed is ridiculous. It's obviously a go-around. The interesting thing about this 'loophole' is that it is very clear from all the documentation that the Conservatives were openly striving to get around Act limitations. That's mens rea, folks.

    Finally, a handbook is not legally definitive, nor is the EC any sort of final arbitrar of the law. the Act itself is, as interpreted by the courts.

    I fail to see any EC conspiracy here. Ridiculous.

     
  • At Fri May 02, 05:09:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Socially Active: You ask why shouldn't election accounts and spending be public records?

    Because, election spending has no bearing on experience, qualifications, policy positions, and campaign promises.

    When I vote, or back a candidate, I do so based on if they are the best person for the job. I don't care what they spend, what they spend it on, or even their chances of winning. I vote for who would best represent me.

    Period. End of discussion.

    Mike Wisniewski

     
  • At Fri May 02, 06:48:00 PM EDT, Blogger wilson said…

    '...they just did as they were told...'LKO

    (and likely recorded the transaction as 'advertising' in their submissions to EC, proving they knew what the money was for)

    No doubt that the candidates trusted the CPC to have their interests covered.
    And the CPC was confident that in their interpretation of the laws, it was acting within the EC rules.

    EC/Libs are taking the position that the CPC KNOWINGLY broke the law.
    Then the CPC involved 67 other people in a known illegal practice,
    and then reported their illegal actions to EC.
    And further, sued EC for disallowing rebates.

    Unlike Adscam, all transactions were recorded, reported and not done in cash.

     
  • At Fri May 02, 06:56:00 PM EDT, Blogger wilson said…

    mark said
    '...If a local campaign did not specifically okay a media buy done in its name, then it's a violation of the Act...'

    Every riding gave their approval of the media buy when they returned the funds to the party and recorded the transaction as 'advertising'.
    If they disapproved, they could have returned the funds and recorded the transaction as a transfer error.

    Anyone claiming 'ignorance' after the fact, is likely scared of EC, and I don't blame them for that.
    The CPC will fight this on their behalf.

     
  • At Fri May 02, 07:32:00 PM EDT, Anonymous clh said…

    Honestly, The fact that this happened doesn't bother me nearly as much as Harper's Conservatives reaction.

    There are two things that bother me the most, Harper's reaction and the fact that this was top-down. While I choose not to try out any "creative" interpretation on taxes and such myself, I think for people who choose to live that way the least they can do is make things right when they are caught. A few Conservative candidates, to their credit, did exactly that. Given the pressure from the top not to correct their reports, they deserve even more credit for doing so.

    The top-down aspect bothers me because I once had a boss who required employees to participate in unethical, creative bookkeeping -- his own version of seeing a loophole where others saw it as not following the rules. The trouble with top-down unethical schemes is that even honest people can get caught up in them.

    Given the circumstances, I don't blame the candidates as much as the leadership. For example, on the paperwork that exposed this whole affair, there is no indication that the candidates knew they were submitting doctored invoices. The Vancouver candidate didn't seem to know that the federal party had made up the "local invoice" to look like it came from Retail Media.

     

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