Quebec Tories Accused of Swapping Ad Expenses
Months after Canadians attention was grabbed by images of RCMP officers carting boxes of files out of the Quebec Conservative Headquarters, Elections Canada's lawyer says the party shifted hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The accusation comes after months of investigations into the shifting of advertising expenses from two of its top Quebec candidates to other candidates who hadn't hit the cap yet.
A little over three months ago, RCMP raided the headquarters looking for files relating to the advertisement costs. Earlier NowPulic story here:
RCMP are conducting a raid on Conservative party headquarters in Ottawa on Tuesday in connection with an investigation into spending on election advertising.
The Mounties, who have a search warrant, say they are assisting Elections Canada.
The Conservative party shifted thousands of dollars in advertising expenses from two of its top Quebec candidates to other Quebec candidates who had more spending room in their 2006 election campaigns, the lawyer for Elections Canada has suggested.
A former financial officer for the party confirmed last month in a court examination that expenses incurred by Public Works Minister Christian Paradis and former foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier were assigned to other candidates.
Elections Canada lawyer Barbara McIsaac, unsurprisingly, opposed the motion to introduce the two affidavits, arguing that it was an attempt by the two candidates to “split” the application by submitting new arguments at the eleventh hour.
But if the court does allow it, she wants the right not only to crossexamine the applicants on the new claims contained in the affidavits, *and* leave to introduce evidence in response — like, say, the search warrant application filed by the
Commissioner of Elections. Duh duh DUH! Decary looked entirely unthrilled by that possibility, but luckily for him, the prothonotary didn’t seem too convinced that this was necessary, although she didn’t rule it out completely.
My guess is that she’ll allow portions of the two affidavits, with cross examination to take place sometime in the next two weeks.
Today's CP story about the latest developments in Conadscam may seem like a relatively minor one based on the wider scope of the Cons' electoral manipulations. But it may prove to be an extremely important one to the extent it may force the Cons' national party and their star Quebec candidates to make mutually contradictory arguments to try to avoid prosecution: