Thursday, April 17, 2008

O'Canada, Our Fra-ud-u-lent Land


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Mounties raid Conservative headquarters in election probe

April 15, 2008
The Canadian Press
http://www.thespec.com/News/BreakingNews/article/354764 or
http://www.macleans.ca/canada/wire/article.jsp?content=n041527A
OTTAWA — The Conservatives’ reputation for clean and transparent governing suffered an embarrassing blow Tuesday when the RCMP raided the governing party’s national headquarters at the request of Elections Canada.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed that the raid was connected to a protracted legal battle between the Conservative party and Canada’s elections watchdog over alleged spending irregularities during the 2006 election campaign, but he insisted his party had done nothing wrong.
Elections commissioner William Corbett asked the Mounties to execute a search warrant, but officials wouldn’t say why.
“I can confirm that the commissioner of Elections Canada has requested the assistance of the RCMP in the execution of a search warrant,” said spokesman John Enright.
“The commissioner has no further comment.
”The raid could pose a significant political threat to the Conservatives. Harper owes his mandate to voter disgust with the Liberal sponsorship scandal and the announcement of an RCMP investigation into a leak at the Finance Department before changes were made to income trusts by the Liberals.
Harper was adamant that his party has done nothing wrong. He described the affair as a difference of interpretation over election spending laws and expressed confidence that the party’s legal position is “rock solid.”
Nevertheless, voters who turned to the Conservatives two years ago after Harper promised to sweep away the Liberals old ways were bombarded Tuesday with images of police officers searching for evidence of wrongdoing at Conservative party offices.
At least two Mounties sifted through party offices on the 12th floor of a downtown office building as camera crews captured the images outside. A short time later, two officers rolled a cart full of boxes and bags into a 17th-floor mailroom. Elections Canada official Andre Thouin was seen leaving the building with a carton of documents.
The Liberal party had their own camera trained on the raid — no doubt to gather footage that will be used in campaign advertising. Liberals — who were hounded out of office by the sponsorship scandal and the income trust investigation — were revelling in the chance to turn the tables on Harper.
Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc said he believes Harper is directly implicated in the spending irregularities during the last campaign. He called the prime minister an expert on election spending laws, noting that Harper led a court fight all the way to the Supreme Court against restrictions on third-party spending.
“It’s inconceivable that a scheme like this was dreamed up and the prime minister wasn’t intimately aware,” LeBlanc said.
Corbett launched an investigation in April 2007 into $1.2-million worth of Conservative election television and radio advertising that was challenged by Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand.
Mayrand refused to reimburse Conservative candidates for part of the advertising money when they claimed it as local expenses. The ads were produced for the party’s national campaign, which has a separate limit for election spending.
The Conservatives insist the transactions were legal and went to court to challenge Elections Canada’s ruling. Opposition parties have labelled the scheme outright fraud.
Some campaign officials told the elections watchdog that the scheme was referred to as the “in-and-out” plan.
Under the plan, party headquarters would send as much as $50,000 in cash to candidates across the country. The candidates would then give the money back to headquarters, claiming they were paying for advertising.
In some cases, the advertising was virtually identical to national ads, the only difference being a barely discernable tag line that listed the names of local candidates.
The RCMP, which has faced accusations of interfering in the last campaign by announcing that the force was launching an investigation into the income trust matter, went to pains Tuesday to point out that it was simply acting at the behest of Elections Canada.
“It is not an RCMP investigation. We’re there to assist, but that’s it,” said RCMP Cpl. Jean Hainey.
He would not provide any other details.
No one from the party was immediately available for comment and phone calls to the headquarters went unanswered.
An aide to the party’s lawyer, Paul Lepsoe, said he was in a meeting and unable to return calls.
Election Canada’s lawyer, Barbara McIssac, was also unavailable.
The Prime Minister’s Office referred questions to the party.
Soon after Corbett launched his investigation, the Conservatives went to Federal Court in an attempt to force Mayrand to reimburse the expenses to 67 Conservative candidates.
That case has not yet reached a hearing stage, with the party and Elections Canada still filing evidentiary briefs.
NDP Leader Jack Layton said the raid is a result of the Conservatives’ “culture of secrecy.”
“Mr. Harper promised transparency, a different kind of open government, and yet when it comes to something this fundamental, the doors have apparently been closed to Elections Canada and they’ve had to call in the police.
“It just shows you why you can’t trust the government of Stephen Harper.
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Allegedly Fraudulant Conservative MPs May Lose Voting Rights In Parliament
Scott Ross, scottaross@hotmail.com
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
A story that has been underplayed or missed completely because of an ambiguous statement made by the Prime Minister, in my opinion, far surpasses the possibility, even an inevitability of a federal election. The story is that those Conservative MPs, that allegedly committed election fraud in the 2006 election, may have their ability to vote in the House of Commons taken away.
In 2006 the Conservative Party has admitted to giving funds to individual riding candidates, those Conservative candidates then in turn bought national ads. Now there are laws in place to limit spending of political parties, the limit being 18 million. It is being alleged by Elections Canada that the Conservatives schemed to get around national spending limits by routing one million dollars through individual candidates to be spent on national ads. To further complicate matters, those Conservative candidates after allegedly bought illegal national ads, sought to collect rebates from Elections Canada of 60% back for the expenditures.
From the Toronto Star today:
  • Elections Canada is alleging that 67 Conservative candidates participated in a scheme in which local riding associations helped pay for national campaign advertising. The national and local campaigns have different spending limits, and, in Federal Court documents filed for a case initiated by Tory candidates seeking expense reimbursement, Elections Canada is alleging that the Conservatives may have gone more than $1 million over their $18 million legal limit by thrusting some costs to the local ridings.
  • Elections Canada has the legal authority to remove an MP's voting rights in the Commons if he or she fails to comply with demands for more information or corrections on their campaign-expense returns. Le Devoir reported yesterday that Elections Canada has raised the possibility of removing voting rights in its case against the Conservatives, but the independent agency said yesterday it would not have anything to say until today.
  • If Elections Canada did exercise that power in this dispute, however, it would mean that as many as 17 MPs – including Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier, Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon and Heritage Minister Josée Verner, as well as chief party whip Jay Hill – would all be ineligible to vote on the throne speech.
Of the Conservatives being named, Ron Cannan, Member of Parliament for Kelowna - Lake Country, makes an appearance. This is the same Ron Cannan that held an "Open House" upon which I was told I was unwelcome and forced not to video tape.
If MPs have their vote rightfully taken from them, and cannot vote, I wonder what possible use for them can there be? Where we elect them to vote on our behalf, if they cannot vote, they can not represent us.
Posted by Anonymous at 10:26 AM
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Liberals see potential fraud in Tory campaign spending dispute
Glen McGregor and Tim Naumetz
CanWest News Service
Published: Wednesday, September 05, 2007
http://www.canada.com/topics/news/politics/story.html?id=47f9fb9c-e047-4c61-b6be-06c340d348f6&k=3952
OTTAWA - A Conservative advertising initiative designed to allow Tory candidates to claim expenses for TV commercials produced for the party's national campaign in the 2006 election was a potential fraud that subverted spending limits under the Canada Elections Act, the Liberal party says.
The Conservative program to move money back and forth between party coffers and local campaigns in a series of "in-and-out" financial transactions was a "laundromat" that allowed Tory campaigns in unwinnable ridings to fund advertising that helped other candidates in tight races, the Liberals charged.
The Liberals made the allegations after a series of Ottawa Citizen stories uncovered details of the $1.2-million advertising program that has the Conservatives in a legal battle with Elections Canada and their campaign expenses under scrutiny by the Commissioner of Elections.
Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc on Wednesday used video recordings of the commercials and a computer slide show to outline the complicated trail of money that flowed between Conservative headquarters and nearly 70 candidate campaigns in the final weeks of the 2005-06 election.
The controversy centres on cash transfers, up to $50,000 in some cases, that the party directed to candidates across the country, but primarily in the key ridings in Ontario and Quebec.
The candidates simply turned the money around, paying the party for ads that Elections Canada insists do not qualify as local expenses.
LeBlanc said evidence filed in Federal Court suggests the planning went all the way to the highest Tory levels.
"Who in the Conservative party designed this laundromat?" LeBlanc said.
He noted Conservative e-mails that surfaced in the legal battle point to Michael Donison, then the party's executive director, who is now an adviser on democratic reform to Government House Leader Peter Van Loan, and Susan Kehoe, then the party's chief financial officer.
LeBlanc went on to call it a "shocking ... top-down scheme" and pointed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's reputation for "micromanaging" the government as well as the Conservative party.
He said the Liberals are calling on the Tories to drop their court action against Elections Canada, repay the money that was diverted to national advertising and promise not to use the same system of transfers in upcoming byelections or the next federal election.
LeBlanc also said the party has asked the House of Commons procedure and House affairs committee to investigate.
"If these allegations are proven true, it is election fraud and a gross breach of the public trust," he said.
The Conservatives quickly attempted to rebut the charges, saying for the first time that freedom of speech is at stake.
Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre said the party's candidates followed all the electoral rules and broke no campaign spending limits.
"We're taking Elections Canada to court to prove it's a matter of free speech," said Poilievre, the parliamentary secretary who stick-handled the government's Accountability Act through the Commons.
Poilievre said parties have been transferring campaign money to election candidates "for generations." He said he would welcome a committee inquiry and challenged all parties to open their books from the past two election campaigns.
© Ottawa Citizen
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Thursday, January 26, 2006
Canadian Election Fraud

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A conservative party won the recent Canadian election, or as conservative Canadian journalist Mark Steyn put it:
In a very Canadian kind of revolution, we rose up yesterday and threw the bums out but gave them a soft, fluffy landing, nevertheless installing in office a minority government that somehow managed to get itself elected despite having the word "Conservative" in its name.
BC Indymedia has already concluded the election was a sham.
Once again, Canada's antiquated first-past-the-post system wasted millions of votes, distorted results, severely punished large blocks of voters, exaggerated regional differences, created an unrepresentative Parliament, and may possibly have even given us the wrong government.
This post, also on BC Indymedia suggests its not even a local phenomena:

Well, after two fixed US elections, a rigged election recently in the Ukraine,
another in Iraq (according to most independent observers anyhow..), the victory
of the christian right-wing in Germany recently too; I wonder how closely the
canadian media are going to look into the financing of the conservative election
apparatus? It would be interesting to see how much 'US' (read: CIA) funding has
been plowed into their campaign?...it seems to be a very disturbing trend
worldwide at the moment - if you don't like their government, bankroll the
rightwing opposition and get them out.
Global Conspiracy? Or Sore Loser. They vote, you decide. It's happened before.
Meanwhile, this guy should be getting hungry right about now.
I, Andrew Munoz, I am a Canadian Citizen, I am 22 years old, I stopped eating as
of 12:00am January 15th in order to raise national awareness concerning
sustainability and its importance in the impending election. I will not start to
eat again until we as a nation have a vision of Canada that we can be proud of.
I put out the call to the candidates running for Prime Minister, "I have
questions like so many Canadians, which go unanswered."
http://indymediawatch.blogspot.com/2006/01/canadian-election-fraud.html
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Michael Moore Statement on Canadian Election
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Michael Moore is currently in production on his next movie. As an avid lover of all things Canadian, he has issued the following statement regarding Canada's upcoming election on Monday. Michael Moore has guts. And he cares about so many people. He doesn't compromise with either party if that party ceases to stand for the people. Let his voice be heard for a long time!
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Friday, January 20th, 2006
Oh, Canada -- you're not really going to elect a Conservative majority on Monday, are you? That's a joke, right? I know you have a great sense of humor, and certainly a well-developed sense of irony, but this is no longer funny. Maybe it's a new form of Canadian irony -- reverse irony! OK, now I get it. First, you have the courage to stand against the war in Iraq - and then you elect a prime minister who's for it. You declare gay people have equal rights - and then you elect a man who says they don't. You give your native peoples their own autonomy and their own territory - and then you vote for a man who wants to cut aid to these poorest of your citizens. Wow, that is intense! Only Canadians could pull off a hat trick of humor like that. My hat's off to you.
Far be it from me, as an American, to suggest what you should do. You already have too many Americans telling you what to do. Well, actually, you've got just one American who keeps telling you to roll over and fetch and sit. I hope you don't feel this appeal of mine is too intrusive but I just couldn't sit by, as your friend, and say nothing. Yes, I agree, the Liberals have some 'splainin' to do. And yes, one party in power for more than a decade gets a little... long. But you have a parliamentary system (I'll bet you didn't know that - see, that's why you need Americans telling you things!). There are ways at the polls to have your voices heard other than throwing the baby out with the bath water.
These are no ordinary times, and as you go to the polls on Monday, you do so while a man running the nation to the south of you is hoping you can lend him a hand by picking Stephen Harper because he's a man who shares his world view. Do you want to help George Bush by turning Canada into his latest conquest? Is that how you want millions of us down here to see you from now on? The next notch in the cowboy belt? C'mon, where's your Canadian pride? I mean, if you're going to reduce Canada to a cheap download of Bush & Co., then at least don't surrender so easily. Can't you wait until he threatens to bomb Regina? Make him work for it, for Pete's sake.
But seriously, I know you're not going to elect a guy who should really be running for governor of Utah. Whew! I knew it! You almost had me there. Very funny. Don't do that again. God, I love you, you crazy cold wonderful neighbors to my north. Don't ever change.

Michael Moore
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Canada's New Government Takes Action to Reduce Opportunity for Voter Fraud
Office of the Leader of the Government in the House of Commonsand Minister for Democratic Reform
(613) 952-4930
The Honourable Rob Nicholson, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform today introduced in the House of Commons a bill to amend the Canada Elections Act so as to improve the integrity of the electoral process.
“I wish to thank the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for its work and I am confident that this bill, in addition to the Federal Accountability Act, will go a long way in further fostering and protecting Canada’s democratic electoral process,” stated Minister Nicholson.
A key reform recommended by the Committee, and implemented in this bill, is the introduction of a uniform voter identification system at the polls. Photo identification will be required, and may only be waived through more stringent alternative means of demonstrating proof of identity.
The bill also introduces amendments aimed at:
  • improving the accuracy of the National Register of Electors by permitting voters to voluntary confirm their Canadian citizenship for the purpose of updating their information;
  • facilitating eligible individuals to exercise their right to vote;
  • creating measures to improve communication between election officials;
  • candidates, parties, and the electorate;
  • and making operational improvements to the electoral process, based on suggestions by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO).
“A well-functioning electoral system is at the heart of a representative democracy,” added Minister Nicholson. “I look forward to working with members of the Standing Committee and other Parliamentarians in ensuring that our electoral process commands the full confidence of Canadians.”
On June 22, 2006, the Committee on Procedure and House Affairs tabled its Thirteenth Report, entitled Improving the Integrity of the Electoral Process: Recommendations for Legislative Change. This bill responds to the report of the Standing Committee by introducing amendments aimed at reducing the opportunity for electoral fraud and improving the integrity of the electoral process. The Government response to the Committee report was tabled in the House of Commons on October 20, 2006.
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