Monday, July 21, 2008

Calling Pierre

Pierre, did other parties do this?:
A former financial officer for the party confirmed last month in a court examination that expenses incurred by Public Works Minister Christian Paradis and former foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier were assigned to other candidates.

NDP MP Pat Martin, a member of the ethics committee, said if the party did shift expenses from Bernier and Paradis to other candidates it would add an entirely new dimension to the controversy.

"I can't get (fellow NDP MP) Judy Wasylycia-Leis to put $5,000 of my expenses into her expenses," said Martin. "That's absolutely not allowed."

In a sworn cross-examination last month, the transcript of which was subsequently entered in the Federal Court file, McIsaac pressed O'Grady about advertising and ad production costs that were transferred from Bernier and Paradis to other candidates.

McIsaac challenged O'Grady's explanations that the expenditures were re-assigned because the candidates had been mistakenly invoiced for more than the amounts their official agents originally committed for the campaign.

"I'm going to suggest to you that Mr. Bernier was less than $2,590 from his spending limit and that he couldn't afford to put the additional amount into his return," McIsaac said to O'Grady.

"That would be total supposition," responded O'Grady.
"Who knows what else would have been going on at the time? I can't comment on how Mr. Bernier ran his campaign."

In the case of Paradis, O'Grady conceded the candidate had originally committed his campaign to a media buy totalling $30,000, was eventually invoiced $29,766 and subsequently received a "credit note" of $10,000 that was reallocated to another candidate, Marc Nadeau.

"Now, again, the reason for this was that Mr. Paradis had reached his limit with respect to spending as well, is that correct?" asked McIsaac. "He had to allocate some of his money to Mr. Nadeau, did he not, because he was close to his limit?"

"I would not know that," replied O'Grady, who replaced former Tory chief financial agent Susan Kehoe several months after the election.

McIsaac also questioned O'Grady over the fact that Bernier paid no production costs for his share of the advertising. Paradis paid only $233.93 for his share, even though McIsaac said other candidates paid $4,500 each for production costs.

It's actually pretty simple, candidates who reached their maximum allowable circumvented the rules by putting expenses onto other candidates returns, in uncompetitive ridings. I'd love for some apologist to argue differently, that smells more fishy than a plate of sun baked calamari.


knb said...

Sun baked calamari! Best line ever.

I too am looking forward to the Con's defending this one.

That is going to be a show in itself.

Steve V said...


The part I don't get, both these ridings were won convincingly, I think Bernier had over 2/3 of the vote. There's a certain arrogance, or it speaks to just how methodical it all was.

The Jurist has a great breakdown of how this development fits. Worth the read.

The Jurist said...

Steve: In fairness to the Cons I wouldn't see these particular expenditures as a sign of arrogance based on how things would have looked during the '06 campaign. Remember that the Cons came in a distant third in both Beauce and M√©gantic—L'√Črable in 2004, so probably weren't expecting to have many votes to spare.

(Not that that excuses breaking the law of course - whether that was based on either incompetent management of campaign money, or a completely methodical assessment of where to put it.)

Steve V said...

That's a fair point, but there must have been some indication that Bernier was doing very well, I mean he ended being the most popular Conservative candidate east of Manitoba, taking almost 70%. By arrogance, I mean these transfers are pretty simple to understand, and yet nobody put the brakes on.