Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The story behind the story 

Here's the news - the Tories have been engaging in illegal fundraising for two years.
Now, you'd never know that from reading this CP story, which promotes the they-are-all-equally-guilty meme. The story says that Liberals, NDP and Conservatives all engaged in "cheque-swapping" until "recently".
What is not made clear by either the headline or the led is that the Liberals and NDP both stopped doing this in 2004, as soon as Elections Canada made it illegal.
The Tories did not. Apparently, they are doing it to this day.
And that's the real story here:

. . . Cheque-swapping, or cheque exchanges as the practice is sometimes called, had been going on for decades prior to 2004 . . . a delegate would make a donation to his or her local riding association, the full amount of which could be claimed by the delegate for a tax credit. The association would then use the donation to pay for the delegate's food, hotel and travel expenses at a convention, bills which would not be eligible for a tax receipt if paid for directly by the delegate.
Essentially, the arrangement amounted to a public subsidy for delegate expenses.
Political financing reforms in 2004 addressed he practice . . .
E-mails obtained by the Vancouver Sun have indicated that some Conservatives were using cheque-swapping to defray their expenses for the party's 2005 policy convention.
"I can tell you that all EDAs (electoral district associations) in Alberta are doing the cheque-swap," advised Red Deer Tory organizer Linda Toews in one e-mail . . .
Mike Donison, the Conservatives' executive director, has said the party had no knowledge that local organizers were using cheque-swapping and did not approve or condone the practice . . .
[Liberal national director Steven] MacKinnon said the Liberals went to considerable effort and expense to analyse the complex political financing reforms and to ensure no one in the party inadvertently breached the law.
Similarly, [NDP federal secretary Eric] Hebert said he spent six months on the phone with officials at Elections Canada, going over every detail of the changes in the law. He acknowledged that some of the complicated details might have been lost on local Tory organizers, but he said it's the responsibility of the central party to ensure all party members respect the law . . .

Except for the Tories, I guess.

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