David Akin compares CPC “In and Out” to Sponsorship Scandal?

The Ottawa Sun headline reads: “Tory transparency fails?” The subtitle reads CPC “In and Out” scandal smacks of the Liberal Sponsorship Scandal? How? Because it involves the purchasing of advertising! Pardon me? At the time of the “In and Out” there was a Liberal government in power!

So, I have no idea what David Akin can be thinking (or his headline writer), first by trying to compare and link the current Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) to the Sponsorship matter, and second that it reflects a lack of transparency in the Harper government — which promised to do better than the Liberals.

Well, apart from purchasing advertising during the 2005/2006 federal election campaign, when the CPC was still the official opposition, there is nothing to compare. It is apples versus bicycles.  For example:

  1. The “In and Out” is about the Conservative Party during the 2005/2006 election campaign. It has nothing to do with the transparency of government. Neither the Conservative party nor Prime Minister Stephen Harper had won an election yet. That would happen after that election campaign, not during the campaign.
  2. It is my understanding that the funds used by the CPC during the 2005/2006 election campaign was NOT taxpayers money. It was private donations by conservatives — a big difference to that of the Sponsorship Scandal.
  3. Given the information in Akin’s column today, some of the money that was spent in the “In and Out” matter was spent on actual advertising, not for work of little or no value. Again, the opposite of what was recorded as happening in the Sponsorship Scandal.
  4. All political parties in Canada have used the “In and Out” approach in the past. So, why is Elections Canada and Akin only going after the CPC — when all the parties have changed their practices as a result of this case?

Was the “In and Out” practice tacky? Perhaps. But ultimately it was money that was donated by Conservative Party of Canada supporters. For instance, as a donor in the 2005/2006 election, do I care if my $100.00 or $200.00 went to the national campaign or my local campaign? No, I don’t.

So, it sure is stretching Akin’s credibility as a professional journalist to compare the “In and Out” matter with the Sponsorship Scandal. For those who don’t remember what the Sponsorship Scandal was about, also referred to as Adscam, here is a Google page with 125,000 entries, including some to the conclusions of the Gomery Inquiry. 

The crux of the matter, however, is that no matter what the media or the current Liberal party says or writes, the more they try to compare the Sponsorship Scandal to something the current federal Conservative Party or the current Conservative Minority Government (which are quite different and Akin should know that)  have done, the more it keeps it uppermost in the minds of Canadians.

And, lets face it, the polls are showing that Canadians are tuning out all these faux scandals because, frankly, we are sick and tired of them, particularly given the more important and urgent issues facing us in Canada and world today.

Endnote: I have noticed that both CTV and Global are presenting news and opinion much more balanced of late. Particular kudos to Don Martin at CTV and Dawna Friesen at Global National. Their professionalism and fairness is appreciated — in contrast to what I have written on this topic before.

C/P at Jack’s Newswatch.

30 thoughts on “David Akin compares CPC “In and Out” to Sponsorship Scandal?

  1. Pingback: Sandy: David Akin compares CPC “In & Out” to Sponsorship? | Jack's Newswatch

    • Ruth — Did I post my comments under The Sun. No, I didn’t. But, you are more than welcome to leave them my link. I assume, though, that they get the pingback.

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  2. Hoo-Haw!! Well done Sandy.

    I hope Mr. Akin takes note.

    I also like your idea of complimenting journos who show a bit of balance. Yes Don Martin is doing a good job. I can’t stomach CBC’s counterpart anymore.

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  3. Sandy great post
    It is incomprehensible what is going on.
    I cannot believe the CBC and some of the journalist
    This is a smear job with totally misleading information
    How can they call themselves news
    thank you for editing my previous post
    I am more steamed today
    We must work for a Conservative Majority (when election comes)
    Bloc, NDP and Liberals will form a coalition if they can
    people I talk to every day are appalled and are committed to vote Conservative
    fh

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  4. Brett — It was not my impression that Akin has ever made anything up. I think what he did at Canwest was release information to Tom Clark, when he was in Washington, that was supposed to be “off the record” — and caused Barack Obama problems in his presidential campaign. I’ll try and find a link and put it here.

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  5. If anyone else can find the link about the David Akin/Obama situation, please leave it here. In the meantime, I will take Brett’s comment down. I don’t want any innuendo posted.

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  6. Great post,Sandy! I wouldn’t trust Akin as far as I could throw him. He did lose his job but it was at CTV something to do with an off the record conversation he had with a former PMO aid about I think the US primaries in their last election,2008.

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  7. Any time we get to remind Canadians of the Liberal Adscam, is ok by me!

    Remember too, Elections Canada did NOT investigate the Adscam Liberal MPs and candidates.

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    • Thanks for that link Ontario Girl. I took a quick look and the issues were very obviously very complex. What part Akin played in it all is unclear even now. So, best to stay away from that topic. The bottom line is that Akin left CTV quickly and nothing has been said since.

      This column today, however, is based on such a faulty assumption that I would be embarrassed to publish it. Lack of transparency in the Conservative gov’t? They weren’t even elected yet. And, as to later once they were, there is a big difference between party and government and Akin should know that.

      The Conservative gov’t serves all Canadians. The party is the political wing that only comes into focus with political ads and campaign strategy. It has nothing whatsoever to do with “transparency in government.” So, all this column does is fuzzy things between party and governing even further.

      The other allegation that the “In and Out” money was used for political advertising is beside the point. Most political funds are used for that purpose. But, were funds diverted from the government? No, it was a Liberal government. Did the sources actually provide advertising services? I assume so.

      What a crock the whole thing is!

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  8. Great post Sandy. Good to remind us that this all happened when Paul Martin was still Prime Minister.
    This is another example of the National Press Gallery manipulating the message.
    Very disappointing to read David Akin joining the liberal MSM again. He has lost any credibility he earned after joining SUN media.
    I have written him off.

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  9. Meh. As scandals go, this really isn’t much of one. Like my accountant used to tell me, if you find a loop hole, you drive a truck through it. If they close it, they close it and everyone benefits from clearer rules in the long run.

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  10. Sandi,

    I didn’t post it as “innuendo”. I knew he lost his job, but was unsure of the circumstance, which is why I phrased it as a question.

    That said, this is not the first time David Akin went after the PM. i believe it was the 2004 campaign when David asked if Stephen Harper “Loved Canada”, which the rest of the PPG served up as a softbal for Paul Martin to hit out of the park.

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  11. Excellent post. The rule of law and waiting for the appeal to the next level in our systems seems to escape most of the
    Liberal punditry.

    The Conservatives have won and lost before the courts. This matter is not settled.

    The greater questions is why EC chose to target only one party if all the parties were doing this in out regarding funds from national to regional media buys.

    Why is EC highlighting the actions of only one party?

    Does our media owe it to be balanced and investigate how they were tipped off for the visit by the RCMP?

    Does the media owe it investigate if other parties did the same transfer of funds?

    The media and Elections Canada need to remove any doubt for bias. Have they? no.

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  12. If one examines the list of unpaid reimbursmemts to candidates one finds that Marc Garneau was denied 6917. as EC deemed it not a monetary expense. Lots of liberals were denied a reimbursements for non monetary expenses. What would those expenses be, possibly car rentals, meals, advertising. But, would not that be considered illegal, to submit false invoices you did not pay. The list is very long. And lots of liberals show up. And if you go to the contribution page you will discover that the liberal party transferred thousands of dollars to candidates and riding associations. Why isn’t EC going after them also.
    Did you know there are 19 registered federal parties. Including the Animal Rights party, the Rhino party is still listed.

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  13. Aiken repeated something told him off the record, during a budget lockup. Wasn’t it something either Hillory or O said about getting rid of NAFTA or something.

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    • Mary T — Follow the link that Ontario Girl has on the Ian Brodie, Michael Wilson, Barack Obama diplomatic leak. It’s complicated and I don’t want to speculate except to say that David Akin left CTV at that time and there are no media links that I can find that talk about it.

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  14. For anyone that wants to know how much money any candidate raised and spent and returned to the party or riding, it is at Elections Canada. Also, you can find every candidate that submitted expenses that were not allowed by EC as they were considered non monetary expenses. For instance, Marc Garneau submitted over 6000.00 and was refused reimbursement. Also, the amount of money returned to the conservative party by candidates is enormous compared to the liberals ndp and Bloc.
    Funny, the laytons never returned one cent.
    When you receive over 50-100 thousand dollars in donations than was needed, leaves a lot there for the next election. And this for just one candidate, not all of them.
    Conservative riding associations are very healthy.
    You can also find out the number of donors and amts for each candidate.
    Funny how EC has conveniently missed all the in and out of the liberal party. Liberal party transferred 70,000. to Ujaal. Did he pay it back.
    Should correct that to returned to the riding associations.
    It was fun reading all the non returned expenses to liberals, especially those that lost in AB.

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  15. Just thought in all fairness, this should be posted.lots of info for the other side but none reported for our side … Pierre P said the block started the In & Out and here is the evidence

    I guess the Block had judge Judy looking into their In & Out…lol…I mean…lets be FAIR here…RIGHT??

    In the 2000 federal elections the Bloc Québécois organized a system to inflate apparent campaign spending at the riding level, and thereby receive much higher refunds from Elections Canada.[1] The Bloc organized “La Méthode In & Out” prior to the elections, having each candidate agree to certain spending numbers in order to inflate the overall cash flows. In exchange, Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe would sign their nomination papers.

    Large amounts of cash were transferred from the party organization to the individual riding associations that are in charge of running one candidate’s election campaign. The money was then distributed to the volunteers as payments for various expenses. The volunteers then donated that money back to the party.[1] On the surface it appeared that the ridings were spending much larger amounts of money than normal, enough to drain the party war chest. In fact, a considerable portion of the money was being returned directly to the party’s coffers.

    Under normal circumstances the money received by the volunteers would be subject to income tax and therefore the scheme would be unattractive to them. But because the money was then spent on political donations, the cash was tax free. The only cost to the volunteer was time in filling out their tax forms – something they were giving up anyway as a volunteer for the party.

    The scheme may have remained unknown if not for an ironic court case against former Bloc MP, Jean-Paul Marchand. Marchand agreed to spend $66,000 as part of the in and out scheme, but spent only $22,276. The Bloc sued Marchand, saying he had broken his contract and owed them $36,362. A Quebec judge agreed with the Bloc, but lowered the amount to $16,362.[1] When the story broke in 2003 as a result of the court case, the ruling Liberal Party immediately started to implement changes to the election law to stop this process. However, these changes were not implemented before the party lost power in 2006.

    After the Liberals Paul Martin LOST to the Conservatives EC changed the rules.What a bunch of phoney’s…CBC & David Aiken where are you????

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  16. Sorry to knock the wind out of your sails Sandy, BUT I have a quote for you from the uber left wing National Post web-site:

    “The party told candidates they could claim the money as campaign expenses, with the government reimbursing them for 60% of the cost from taxpayer funds.”

    This was in fact a lot of taxpayers money, I’m not sure how much, let’s say 60% of 1.3 million, about $800,000 not in the realm of untendered $16 billion F35 fighter jet contracts, but still a lot of money.

    As for your point #1, transparency and honesty is only relevant when you’re elected? Rules are rules, you break them, deny and try to hide that you did, NOT transparent and NOT honest.

    And point #4, a very typical right wing argument, they did it so we can… well they may have, but they lost an election because of it and they did not campaign on openness, honesty and transparency!

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    • Sorry Wer — You are completely off base. Today I will write a post about how the In and Out was developed by the Bloc Quebecois and the rules only changed AFTER the 2006 election campaign. Here is the Wikipedia link and, after reading it carefully, it seems to be very thorough.

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  17. Great work here Sandy.

    I did email David Akin on this and got a very nice reply.

    It’s what we have to do, call them on these matters, let them know we’re paying attention and we are up to date on the facts.

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  18. Sandy I understand partisan blogging, you’re trying to take a bad situation and frame it better, but facts are facts. The majority of the ridings involved in the in-out schemed fraudulently submitted (to the federal government) expense claims trying to recover up to 60% of the money they laundered for the national party in the in-out scheme. This refund IS FROM TAXPAYER money, no dispute!

    Addressing the basic premise of your blog, could please provide a link where “David Akin compares CPC “In and Out” to Sponsorship Scandal”? The only article I could find is on the Toronto Sun web-site: http://www.torontosun.com/comment/columnists/david_akin/2011/03/02/17471716.html

    Referring to the in-out scheme, Mr. Akin writes: “This is a serious matter, particularly for a government that found favour with many voters because it promised to conduct itself differently after the sham that was the Liberal sponsorship scandal”. …Making the same point that many observers have in recent years, it is very, very ironic/sad that a government/party that rode into power on the coat tails of the sponsorship scandal and promised to be better, more open, honest and transparent is in fact not conducting itself any differently. From OdaGate, to the newly developing Jason Kenney FundGate, to the in-out frauds, NOT how I would define open, honest and transparent leadership.

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    • Wer — Actually I am not a partisan blogger. I just happen to support the Harper government at the moment. In the past, I have voted Liberal many times. Moreover, I have already refuted Akin’s point of view in a previous post. And, the $800,000 being knocked around at the moment as being taxpayers money remains to be seen. I read somewhere, and find it interesting that the link to that information has disappeared, that all that money was frozen by EC because it was under dispute.

      Moreover, if this is fraud for the CPC, not the Conservative Gov’t as there is a huge difference between the two institutions, then it is for the Bloc Quebecois too because they invented the scheme during the 2000 election. And, received a great deal more in subsidies than did the CPC. Fair is fair. Or, at least it should be. See my most recent post on that topic. To many millions of Canadians, Elections Canada is looking very bad at the moment.

      Oh yes, like Akin, you are going on about being open and transparent in government. Get your facts straight man. The Tories weren’t the government during the 2006 election campaign — it was in case you have conveniently forgotten, the Paul Martin Liberal government who was in power during that campaign.

      Look, I like a good debate, and don’t mind differences of opinions, but you are just spouting Liberal talking points. So, unless you contribute something more meaningful, I will not be approving any more of your comments. You want to help? Find out whether or not Elections Canada has put a freeze on the subsidies under dispute. Can you prove, for example, that the Conservative Party — not the government which is quite separate from the party and it is the party that runs campaigns — did receive those subsidies?

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  19. Sandy, you asked: You want to help? Find out whether or not Elections Canada has put a freeze on the subsidies under dispute.

    That was the whole point of the original court case. The CPC argued that Elections Canada did not have the right to deny the expense claims, the first federal court agreed sort of saying that that elections Canada could not deny the expense claims until the investigations by Public Prosecutor was complete. BUT as you know this ruling was overturned by the appeals court. I don’t know if any of the ridings received the expense money, but the court has ruled that cannot claim the expenses.

    The charges against the 4 senior CPC members are completely separate from the expense claims by local rindings. The Public Prosecutor (which was setup by Harper as part of the Accountability Act) has charged the Tory fundraisers with exceeding federal spending limits and improperly reporting campaign expenses.

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  20. Why have commenting on if you’re going to cut people off? It seems like if you disagree with someone, you assume they are being argumentative? Isn’t it at least possible that you could both have valid points? I agree mostly with wer.

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    • Rob — I have approved all of Wer’s comments so far today but it is my blog and if I don’t want to read “talking points,” rather than discussing what I actually posted, I won’t. Speaking of someone allowing for a difference of opinion and valid points, how come you set up a blog last October but have never posted so anyone, besides yourself, can leave comments?

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