The Conservative government is proposing to open a loophole in its vaunted accountability act by declaring that party convention fees not be counted as political contributions under the law.
The issue is a sensitive one for the Conservative party, which is under investigation by Elections Canada for failing to declare almost $2 million in fees paid by delegates to the party's 2005 convention.
They now want to change the accountability act to add that "payment . . . of a fee to participate in a registered party's convention is not a contribution" as long as the fees don't exceed the cost of running the convention.
That's the same argument the party made in June when it vehemently claimed it was following existing campaign financing laws when it failed to declare as much as $1.7 million in fees from its March 2005 convention.
Stating the obvious:
"The Tories seem to be now admitting that they have broken the law," said Steven MacKinnon, national director of the Liberal party.
"They're trying to use the blunt instrument of Parliament as a form of pardon for their violation of the law and trying to fix these mistakes retroactively."
Even NDP MP Democrat Pat Martin, one of the accountability act's most vocal supporters, said the Conservatives are pulling a fast one.
"They're trying to prove the point after the fact," Martin said. "I guess that's the advantage of being the ruling party - you can correct your mistakes by statute after the fact.
"We won't support it."
I have to admit, quite shrewd to dump this little tidbit on a Friday. Harper made acccountability the cornerstone of his election campaign, so it is quite significant that the Conservatives now amend their legislation to take the stench off their own dubious activities. Hypocrisy is all the richer when you claim the moral high ground, a frequent error that conservatives make. Newsflash, the Conservatives are just like the other parties, heck maybe worse. The horror.