Tuesday, August 14, 2012

To overspend or not to overspend, that is a Conservative question



Kudos to the reporter who pursued Penashue here. What a rare treat to see a politician, in Canada, quizzed like this. It really should happen more often and ideally, to the Prime Minister. A gal can dream, hey?

Really, the questions could have gotten even more aggressive with Penashue. If you are curious as to the issue, it is significant:
Newfoundland and Labrador's federal cabinet representative still has little to say on how he funded his 2011 election campaign, including an Elections Canada finding that he spent more than allowed.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue was found not only to have spent almost $4,000 over his limit, but that his campaign also had several irregularities, including cheques with no names, handwritten receipts and a donation with no name attached.
As well, Elections Canada found that Penashue had obtained a loan for $25,000 from the Innu Development Limited Partnership - a firm managed at the time by Penashue's brother-in-law - after some cheques written by his own campaign had bounced.
This is not a small matter. These rules have to mean something if we are to have fair play in our elections. We had the national Conservative campaign in 2006 who overspent on the national federal campaign spending limit, setting the rotten tone at the top for the Conservative approach to election rules. We have the allegations of Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro overspending. And now we've got Conservative MP Penashue facing his own allegations. All from the supposed law and order Conservative party of Canada.

Also a leading problem, the Elections Act regime does not have enough teeth to ensure that the rules will be followed. For example: "Overspending in a campaign carries a fine of $1,000 and/or three months in jail to be served by the official agent, Enright said." That's ridiculous and is not deterring. Not deterring some political parties, that is.