Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Why the "In and out" scandal won't stick

Lots of buzz about the so-called "In and out" scandal.

Elections Canada has charged the Conservative Party with some sort of convoluted accounting shenanigans.

Seems like a big issue. But is it? Will it hurt the Tories in the next election?

Nope and here's why.

To really work politically, a scandal must have two characteristics: a) It must be something that somehow harms average voters and b) it must be easy to understand and explain.

The "In and out" business fails on both counts.

First off, who cares if the Conservatives were monkeying around with the books and breaking some obscure Elections Canada regulation?

The way the average casual voter sees it most politicians are crooks anyway. So the "in and out" stuff won't really shock or anger. Just the usual "politicians being politicians" nonsense.

More importantly this scandal is just too complicated to easily explain. Something about the Conservatives shifting $1.3-million in ad expenses from its national campaign for the 2006 election to 67 individual candidates, who paid for the nationally produced ads through bank transfers .... sorry, dozed off there for a second.

The point is you need to be a CMA to follow all the money trails laid out in this story.

Not the  kind of thing you can exploit in a 30 second TV spot.

Contrast all this to the Adscam scandal. Now that was a scandal you could write home about.

It featured politicians taking our hard earned money and giving it to their fat cat buddies in the ad business.

You see how I explained it in just a few words. You see how it gets you angry?

So if the Liberals and NDP think this Elections Canada scandal is a winner they need to go back to politics school.


Ted Betts said...

I disagree with you on most of this Gerry.

The issue may not be hugely evil, but it is simple: the Conservatives committed electoral fraud, they cheated on election financing rules, they broke the law. And they did so deliberately, knowing it was illegal and even being advised that it was illegal.

But there are some ugly facts which are also very simple to understand and clearly wrong. For example, they forged invoices. They submitted invoices for a media company that the media company did not issue. You sure don't need a CMA to understand that that is wrong.

You also have a Conservative candidate who refused to participate in the scam and wrote a book saying it was "obviously" illegal and he was shamed by such "dishonourable conduct" by Harper and his government. You have internal emails questioning whether this was legal and ethical. You have emails from the national campaign telling local candidates that they have no choice in the matter.

This is not complex. It is simple and clear.

Worse, it feeds into the storyline increasingly resonating with Canadians that this government will say anything and do anything - legal or not, ethical or not - in order to get and keep and increase power.

Whether the opposition can sell it that way or the Conservatives can sell it like they are trying, is a different question, of course.

Anonymous said...

This is old news,the liberals have done this also.

Surecure said...

The other problem here (hate to break it to you Ted) is that the other problem with this "scandal" here is that all of the major political parties engaged in the very same practice.

All you have to do is hit Google and search: Evidence of how the Liberals and the NDP engage in their own In-and-Out funding efforts

It's all there.

Alberta Girl said...

Ted.I hope you have a link to prove those charges of forged invoices?

Anonymous said...

The Party cheated on the election by buying too many attack ads, and tried to stick taxpayers for the bill, when its candidates submitted phony rebate invoices.

Kristin Beaumont-Politics and Other Things said...

Mr Betts sure does seem to be a member of the liberal party, or a supporter...

his comments do not surprise me...

wilson said...

LOL Ted proves your point Gerry zzzzzz.

Here's ugly facts for yah Ted:

Laundered $100 bills stuffed into the pockets of 12 Liberal candidates,
and Elections Canada did NOT investigate.

$40 million of stolen taxpayers Adscam money still missing and unaccounted for.

Anonymous said...

Greg Weston from CBC isn't Conservative friendly, and this is his rant today... he said...

Perhaps worst of all, if the so-called "in-and-out scheme" had been successful, Conservative candidates would have unjustly collected more than $800,000 of taxpayers' money from election rebates they weren't owed.

Note the IF. Manard also said NO taxpayers money was paid by rebates to the CONSERVATIVE party.It is in the courts.

In other words it is Conservative money, NOT taxpayers and OTHER parties did the same thing....this was reported to have been started by the BLOCK and they all did it. The CPC WON one and the EC won one= tied in this.

No crime. And I don't want to hear about someone who LOST in the election and wrote a book. PULEASE.
And this is Liberals and the CBC and Media trying to make hay out of this...CBC Rosemary Barton said that one.

bertie said...

Yes Ted your out to lunch on this one.Nothing illegal and they were exonerated by the highest court.Case closed Ted and you should be careful how you throw around words like forged.

Anonymous said...

All Betts are off.

Anonymous said...

Based on the comments I can see why the electorate has a low opinion of politicians of all stripes.The excuse that"sure we broke the law, but so did the other guys" werophowouldn't be acceptable from your teenager, so why is it valid here?

Anonymous said...

None of the parties broke the law, they all did the same thing, it's Elections Canada that is offside on this situation in their interpretation and bias.

This will end up in the Supreme Court of Canada where I'm sure EC will lose and those charges recently laid will be dismissed.

Bias that is clearly seen in EC's pandering to the 2006 Liberal leadership candidates.

Anonymous said...

Are people stupid? It was Elections Canada in the Conservative Parties office's on Parliament hill with a CAMERA CREW FROM CBC and LIBERAL MEDIA REPORTERS. NOW they are BACK because the Liberals are DROWNING.The only people trying to SELL anything here is the CBC , Liberals and their LIBERAL MEDIA. Where's the ruling from Milliken on Bev Oda? Its been over two weeks....Nah...keep it ....let the Coalition MILK it for another MONTH?

johndoe124 said...

The scandal is that it's going to cost taxpayers millions to sort out a badly written regulation.

Anonymous said...

Two words, Gerry: Money Laundering.

That's what it looks like, that's what it is.

Money laundering is something crooks engage in for the public.

Anonymous said...

Money laundering was done by the Liberals. Gomery said "the Liberal party is a party of corruption."

When six Liberal leadership candidates failed to pay off their leadership loans and had to go to court seeking further extensions – Elections Canada didn’t even show up for the hearing, though they were named in the court papers,” DeLorey said.

According to the Elections Act, leadership candidates have 18 months to pay off any outstanding debts but can ask for an extension.

Several Liberal candidates did ask for extensions but could not meet that deadline. Last January a Federal Court granted another extension until the end of 2011.

Currently the Liberal Party website is still accepting donations for Kennedy, Hedy Fry, Joe Volpe, Ken Dryden, Martha Hall Findlay, Maurizio Bevilacqua and Stephane Dion. The leadership race ended Dec. 3, 2006.

Elections Canada denies there is any special treatment being given.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the whole point of electing the Conservatives in 2006 all about accountability? Why are we arguing over whether this is criminal fraud, or merely administrative charges? Oh, but the Libs were bad too...

I'm disgusted with this scandal, not because it may or may not be worse than what the Libs did, but frankly, because based on their rhetoric I hold this Prime Minister to a higher standard. If he can't live up to that, then I see no difference between them. (and in that case, unfortunately, most Canadians are socially liberal, so they will either vote lib or ndp.)

wilson said...

no name at 7:03
not even close, the funds come from CPC donors and was 100% accounted for from the source and 100% accounted for all the way along right into the EC office.

You are thinking of the Adscam party, with kick back schemes and cash stuffed into envelopes.
Any idea where the missing $40 million is?

money laundering
1. [n] concealing the source of illegally gotten money .

Anonymous said...

Two words Gerry...desperate Coalition.

wilson said...

Heh, the official NOT came down today,
no taxpayer funded arenas,
not now, not in the future!

Ted Betts said...

Oh dear. Such a shame. There was so much hope for the Conservatives and their supporters back in 2006. Things were going to be different. Better.

Now they and they sycophants are reduced to excusing illegal election fraud, lying to Parliament, forgery. So sad. Such a shame.

Anyone can form an opinion about how much this will hurt the Conservatives or not. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts so permit me if you please to correct some of the many many factual errors in the comments here.

First: these are not "administrative charges" or mere "accounting differences". The Public Prosecutors Office which brought these charges clarified that yesterday. They are charging the Conservatives because of illegal activity that could result in jail time, folks. Tax fraud is likewise technically not a "criminal" offense because it is not in the Criminal Code, but you would not call it an accounting difference nor an administrative issue.

Second: no one has done this before. That is a lie. The "this" is submitting false/forged invoices, directing a national campaing of in-and-out from the national campaign, orchestrating a widespread campaign of it knowing that it would otherwise put you over the spending limit. You see, it is not the "in-and-out" part that is illegal, but the doing it in order to spend more than you are allowed and doing deliberatly.

Third: There are not multiple court decisions. The Court of Appeal wiped out the lower court decision, said it was wrong. The Court of Appeal decision is the law, binding on all other courts save one, the Supreme Court and as someone who has helped write a textbook on administrative law, I serious doubt the Supreme Court will even allow an appeal to proceed given the CA decision. (Oh and just for Bertie: you really need to start reading real news and not Conservative press releases. The opposite is true: the highest court so far has ruled very strongly against the Conservatives, not exonerated them, said Elections Canada was right.)

Fourth: the head of Elections Canada was appointed by Harper. The Public Prosecutors Office, which brought the charges against the Conservatives, was created by Harper and fully staffed by Harper. This is proceeding because objectively this looks like law breaking election fraud, not because the world is out to get the Conservatives. Just because the facts are against you doesn't mean the world is.

Fifth: read the definition of forgery: passing off a document as something other than it is knowing that someone will rely on that misinformation. The Conservatives submitted ad company invoices to Elections Canada to try to get taxpayer money that the ad company did not issue. Forgery. Pure and simple.

Sixth: Emails, internal Conservative emails, show that Conservatives were advising the National Campaign that this was at the least extremely unethical and likely illegal. They did it anyway. One Conservative refused to do it because he knew it was illegal and was sick that his party and the government could do this. They tried to push him out of the party.

Seventh, and I love this "defence": no amount of wrongdoing by some government 15 years ago, 5 Liberal leaders ago, 3 governments ago... makes Harper's law breaking any less illegal. You can compare them I suppose, but you might as well compare to MacDonald Pacific scandal. It doesn't change the facts. It doesn't make Harper's illegal acts legal. And moreover, it stinks of the worst kind of pass the buck, ducking of responsibility Conservatives have been saying they don't do.

I'm so sorry that facts and reality have such a built-in anti-Harper Conservative bias.

Anonymous said...

You know, when I hear the words "electoral fraud" I think of rigged voting, pre-printed ballots, and candidates that disappear in the night. I think of Zimbabwe, Venezuela, or Iran. THIS?? This is just a disagreement between rival accountants.

Anonymous said...

Actually the in and out part is easily understood by the average voter Gerry, it is who is giving and who is taking it that is not clear? (real conservative)

Ted Betts said...

Anonymous 9:51:

If it turned out that the Liberals had illegally accepted $100,000 campaign donations from 18 people (for a total of $1.8 million), would you say it was no big deal? Would you say it was an "accounting" dispute or an "administrative" dispute with Elections Canada?

No, you would say it was illegal electoral fraud. Because it would be.

This is worse.

The law seems dumb to me. But if you don't like it, change it, campaign to change it. Don't arrogantly break it and then say too bad for you.

Will. said...

@ Anonymous 7:03

Money laundering is covering up the origin of money gained by committing crimes so as to appear legitimate. This is not that.

We all know where the money came from...cpc donors...and we all know where it went: Ad buys.

Whether these expenses are national or local is in dispute...the legality of the origin of the money is not.

Anonymous said...

On P&P tonight Pierre P asked Evan Soloman if he would like to see the NUMEROUS documents, that were accepted in court, that were tabled in the HOC, of the evidence of all the other parties that had money go in and out. Evan wasn't interested. You see, it doesn't fit in with the CBC agenda.The CBC national spent 1/2 hr on this, and Loyd Robinson on CTV didn't even bring it up.
CBC the Liberals free attack ads.

Anonymous said...

Ted. You lost me at 2nd, which, proves Gerrys point. The issue isnt the in and out or Bev Oda, the issue and Ted absolutely refuses to comprehend, is, the core Con supporters are now more powerful then the core Lib supporters. For 30 years the LPC had a base, didnt matter what went on, it was a solid base, now, there is a solid Con base, and, it bugs the hell out of Lib partisans that other Canadians have the same dislike for Liberal policy's as Liberals have for right wing policy, because, it hasnt been that way for 30 years. Con supporters destroyed a Mulroney party because they hated what they saw, Lib supporters after Adscam looked the other way. The LPC and its supporters have created a very powerful and loyal Con base, and, that base is acting much the same as the Lib base, and, it drives people like Ted Betts nutty, which, kinda makes my day.

Anonymous said...

"Gee your Honour,sure I stole that car but Bernie Madoff stole millions so that makes my theft an administative error" Yes, the other parties did the same thing but they did not (and this is the crux of the problem)exceed their spending cap. If you do not like the spending cap law,then great,just change it. But for a government to pick and chose which laws apply to them is the definition of anarchy.

Ted Betts said...

So, billg, let see if I understand your unassailable logic here.

It's not a crime because the Conservatives are more popular right now than the Liberals.

Wow. Doesn't that just make democracy a heck of a lot easier.

Maybe we should apply this "logic" to other areas of criminal law. Run elections on major crimes: you win more than 50% of the vote, you are exonerated; you don't you go to jail.

Brilliant, Billg.

Anonymous said...

Admit it Ted, Gerry's right on this one.

Canadians have more important things to think and rant about than the latest Liberal scandal of the month.

How be you and your boys get cracking on finding a real leader?

Gerry - finding it quiet funny that even the conservatives posting here who post their criticism of you on the Tory blogs agree with you and lend their support on this. Fickle bunch those!

Anonymous said...

Jeezus Ted..relax. I never said it wasnt a crime, I never said Im liking the way this Conservative govt is behaving, what I said is, that right now most of the solid Con base feels that the Liberals have behaved and will behave in the same manner as the Cons, so, why change? Stamp your feet and yell "bad form" all day for all I care, it wont change the facts. There will come a time when voters say, "this govt is worse then the last one", but, its not here yet, and it should give you a little insight into how much voters still dont trust the Liberals to be any better. Theres nothing wrong with hating the right Ted, and, I've read so many of your comments that you cant argue you dont, but, sooner or later you gotta pop your head up and face reality, this Harper crew has got a long way to go before it starts to come close to the Liberal smugness, GST election lies, Adscam, Gun Registry and HRCgate, but, trust me, they will, every govt does.
I'm just giving you an insight as to why In/Out and Oda matters, but, hasnt hurt them. Get some air Ted, go make a snowman and relax. billg

Anonymous said...

Evidence of Liberal and NDP In & Out ads....also check over at the HOC..there is documents there of all parties participating in this same thing.

Seems like one massive smear job.

Ted Betts said...

Billg: Sure, if you want to chagne the subject and talk about general electoral chances. But I was just commenting on the topic at hand. Frankly, I think think in the voter mind this is akin to Shawinigate: its real, its wrong, its illegal (though Shawinigate was unethical and not illegal), not enough to turn a ton of people's mind right now on its own, but won't be forgotten and will be remembered and highlighted as the Harper baggage continues to mount. Fair assessment/comparison?

Not sure where you think I "hate the right". I certainly don't like the scandals, corruption, anti-democratic Harper and his government. But like Gerry, I think, not liking what Harper is doing to Canada doesn't mean I hate the things he used to stand for.

Odysseus said...

There is no doubt whatsoever that invoices were submitted by the local candidates for reimbursements that Retail Media did not create, nor does it recognise as coming from them. Yet these bogus invoice were used to attempt to receive a rebate from the Public Purse.

If I created an invoice whole cloth out of my imagination on my computer, then attempted to submit that to Revenue Canada to claim a deduction for an expense I did not incur what do you think Revenue Canada would do if they found it?

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly. The problem with most Canadians is that they are virgins in the political arena. In reality if you can't screw your own supporters how can you hope to deal with others in the global arena where nobody takes prisoners? Even the Bible adises us to "not be overly godless or rightious." I can't stand Harper but he is up there and Iggy is not, and won't be simply because he is too courteous.

Gordie Canuk said...

Everyone knows Harper is a 'same old same old' political hack. His rhetoric never matches his record. But he is an incredibly gifted rhetorician, (sp?_) Stacking the senate, not taxing income trusts, big on law and order then appointing judges who let convicted rapists walk.

Ultimately though you're right Gerry, Canadians' appetite for bland scandal is not very big...and our collective attention span allows Harper to keep flip flopping all over the place.

Anonymous said...

What I dont get is the Liberals who comment here as if their party is squeaky clean. Give me a break, No two wrongs dont make a right but dont have the arrogamce and gall to come in here and act like the Liberal party is pure like the driven snow. Please.