Elections Canada has to know “In & Out” started by Bloc Quebecois

Why are Elections Canada and the media going after the Conservative Party of Canada (and Prime Minister Harper personally) regarding an “In and Out” financing scheme that was not only used by all the political parties until after the 2006 federal election, but was actually invented by the Bloc Quebecois and used by them during the 2000 federal election? For example, Wikipedia states:

  • “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. 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. 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. 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.” (My bolding.)

So, as I asked at the start: Why are Elections Canada and the media going after the Conservative Party of Canada regarding an “In and Out” financing scheme that was not only used by all the political parties, but was actually invented by the Bloc Quebecois during the 2000 federal election? For instance, this earlier Ottawa Citizen article does not even mention that the scheme was started by the Bloc.  

Meanwhile, we are constantly hearing that the CPC received $800,000 in taxpayers subsidies because of the “In and Out” method. Yet,  I read somewhere (and now can’t find the link unfortunately) that the CPC has never received that money because the claims are being disputing by Elections Canada.  Therefore, it would be appreciated if someone from the Conservative Party would either confirm or deny that claim by making that information public — because as far as I could tell, the “In and Out” only involved donated money.

In any event, the whole matter is so Canadian. What a strange country we live in when neither the politicians, nor the media, dares speak about the taxpayers subsidies that the Bloc Quebecois received after the 2000 election — using the “In and Out” scheme — for fear of being accused of Quebec bashing. It is not Quebec bashing at all. It is about fairness for all Canadian political parties. 

Which leads me to believe there is more than a kernel of truth in the notion, as the Hill Times reports, that Elections Canada bureaucrats are retaliating against Stephen Harper for an earlier law suit when he was out of politics?

Perception becomes reality. Therefore, all I and millions of other Canadians want, is the truth and a measure of fairness by those in our public institutions, in this case Elections Canada.

24 thoughts on “Elections Canada has to know “In & Out” started by Bloc Quebecois

  1. I don’t expect you will find the media interested in providing a balanced view of this issue. The media have decided what the facts are and will make their case to attack the Conservative party.

    An issue that might embarrass the Conservatives is deemed newsworthy and news producers will spend resources investigating it. The same can’t be said for the parties in the opposition.

    The media has decided to take sides in our democracy. They have become activists with their own agenda.

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  2. The ONLY reason this is an issue with Elections Canada and with the media is because BOTH are hoping to paint these events as a scandal against the Conservative government, just prior to what could be the downfall of the government.

    It’s bad enough that the MSM has lost integrity and is taking sides in an election (nothing new there, unfortunately); but for Elections Canada to be so blatantly politicized is truly shocking.

    Time for a (Mayor) Ford style sweep of the senior executives at Elections Canada. Either that or change the name of the organization to “Elections Liberal”; it would be more fitting.

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  3. The core message of this is a bit like taxes that have become so complicated we need to pay someone to do our taxes. The litmus test should be that government should not be entitled to our money unless little old ladies with blue hair and little old men with no hair can file their own tax return.

    The same applies to Elections Canada. If they can’t explain their rules crisply on the back of a cigarette package then they should forced rewrite the rules so we can all understand them. Elections Canada should be on trail here for their very survival.

    My experience in riding associations, particularly during elections is that many do not want to be involved because there are so many complicated rules. For example few otherwise competent people want to be treasurer because the personal risk is too high. We’re afraid of making a mistake interpreting bizarre rules.

    Keep it simple and we might get a more active, participatory democracy. But unionized government bureaucrats, by their very nature, make things complicated to create job security. Yes FredR we need the “Ford Nation” to fix it.

    nomdeblog

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  4. ”However, these changes were not implemented before the party lost power in 2006.”

    Which is what PMSH is referring to when he states the CPC can not retroactively change their accounting practices to follow rules that changed after the election.

    Sandy, I am pretty sure Stephen Taylor had an indepth post on the rule books changes before and after the 2006 election,
    dating back to when this first flared up.

    There are many examples of EC treating the CPC and LPC different.
    AG Sheila Fraser should be called in for a performance audit on EC.

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  5. The Gomery Commission found:

    •There was clear evidence of political involvement in the administration of the Sponsorship Program;
    •Deliberate actions were taken by program managers to avoid compliance with federal legislation and policies, including the Canada Elections Act, the Lobbyists Registration Act, the Access to Information Act, and the Financial Administration Act, in addition to federal contracting policy;

    So where are the investigations by Elections Canada into Adscam?

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  6. My conspiracy theory, the media is bullying the conservatives because they are in government and are having high polling numbers. Bring down the polls, minority governments sell more news. Even a Bloc,NDP, Liberal coalition lead by Iggy while giving the Bloc veto powers will sell much more news. A majority conservative government will sell news for about a week, a majority iggy lead coalition would sell news indefinitely. Even though there have been many examples of other party in and outs and other examples of opposition parties using mp’s offices for campaign contributions and what not, the media have not strayed from focusing on the conservatives. Thanks.

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  7. Ontario Girl — Thanks for that link. While it is implied that no taxpayers money was received, it doesn’t actually spell that out. So, we’ll just have to keep on looking for our proof.

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  8. Sandy do you have any idea who Elections Canada is responsible to? Clearly they don’t answer to the government – who DO they answer to for blatant partisan politicking and misuse of authority?

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  9. Bob — Who is responsible for the goings on at EC? I don’t know but because EC is an arms-length agency, my guess is that they have a Board of Directors — appointees for sure, but it would be the Board who directs the CEO. However, the responsibility for day-to-day operations, and certainly lawsuits, that would be the chief administrator. Perhaps someone else can enlighten us a bit more. When I get time, I’ll look it up because it is a good question.

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  10. Okay, Ontario Girl — The Toronto Sun column does say that the CPC was not given a rebate for the $800,000 but given Pundits Guide’s complicated explanation, I am still not confident enough yet to post on it. But, we have a good start now to the argument that taxpayers money was not used for the disputed expenses.

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  11. Bob…does this help…

    The Canadian House of Commons appoints the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada to head the agency. The Chief Electoral Officer in turn appoints the Commissioner of Canada Elections, who ensures that the Canada Elections Act is enforced; and the Broadcasting Arbitrator, who allocates paid and free broadcasting time during electoral events. The Chief Electoral Officer is seconded by the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer and Chief Legal Counsel and a staff of some 330 representing five executive directorates. During an election, staff at Elections Canada headquarters increases to 600 and to approximately 190,000 across Canada.

    If I get a more offical answer on the rebate I will post it.

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  12. I found this comment interesting about NDP In & Out….if it can be posted??

    Here’s a scheme someone should investigate. I have a friend who is in a union. It is illegal for unions or corporations to contribute to political parties. So it is alleged what the unions do is ask their people to use a sick day or vacation day to “volunteer” with the election campaign for the local NDP candidate. The union pays the employee for the day they are “volunteering”. Since the employee is already being paid by his employer for the vacation/sick day, the employee donates their pay for that day to the NDP. So the union is alleged to make a contribution to the NDP by moving the money through their members – how sick is that?

    (Edited by blog administrator.)

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  13. CadooleI: didn’t bookmark it…it was a website with that comment. Is it important which site? I got a better story

    Okay…I said I wouldn’t watch the Liberal propaganda show of the CBC that is campaigning for the Coalition party(Election Canada, where are you) but I must admit I watched part of it. There was Pat Martin, Joe Volpe and Evan Solomon ATTACKING the lone Conservative(like the election debates) on Election Expenses…what a pack of hypocrites…..remember this in 2006…when pat Martin was against Joe Volpe and tonight they are together…how odd,,,It was okay with Elections Canada though…lololol

    (Blog administrator: See this Wikipedia link.)

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  14. Ontario Girl — My apologies, but I am going to file the 4:22pm comment, for legal reasons. However, if you can find a mainstream media link, I can republish it.

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  15. Here is the website on the Joe Volpe and Pat Martin BS on CBC tonight together and how Elections Canada brushed off a Liberal…you can post it again for all to see….I will spend a few hours on the comment one to find again……I was on a lot of websites looking for the story from EC where there was NO TAXPAYERS MONEY GIVEN TO THE CPC by EC by refunds…get back to you all when and if I can find it again…??

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Volpe

    (Blog Administrator: See also comment at 6:01pm)

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  16. Thanks for that link at 7:57pm. However, this evening I decided not to write anything more on the “In and Out” topic until after the March 18th court date.

    My point in this post was to ask EC why they are not going after other parties, particularly knowing it was another party who started the whole scheme. Do I agree with the approach? No. Would I have agreed to doing it had I run as a candidate? Not likely. Yet, none of the parties are doing it now because the rules were changed after the 2006 election campaign.

    So, why is the head of EC allowing his officials to ruin the agencies’ non-partisan reputation? I wish I knew. One standard for Conservatives and one standard for everyone else.

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  17. Had an interesting discussion with a co-worker about this today.
    Pointed out to them that the best way to put a stop to political parties abuse of tax payer subsidies is to end the subsidies alltogether.
    Perhaps this question can be put to the opposition to see if they would support ending political subsidies?

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