Monday, May 5, 2008

Since when are post-election polls election expenses?

Years ago, Henry Kissinger said that "power is the ultimate aphrodisiac," and I frankly believe that explains Stephen Harper's power compulsions. Killing the access to information database the other day is just one example of that.

Another is setting the age of consent for heterosexual sex at 16 but keeping the age of consent for homosexual sex at 18; with no "closer relations" exception for same-sex relations unlike for opposite sex. Meaning a boy and girl who fool around and / or get carried away, or play doctor get off scott free; but two girls or two boys who do the same face time in juvee.

Such could not survive and will not survive a court challenge given the courts' strong position that gays and lesbians have the same rights as the enumerated categories of people in the Charter; but in the meantime the courts will be clogged with unnecessary challenges.

However, it's the continuing "in and out" scandal that is really bugging me. Now it seems the money that wasn't supposed to have been spent, was spent on internal party polling -- perhaps months after the election was over. (Per the Winnipeg Free Press) The claim is that in a number of districts an initial campaign return was filed within four months after the election (as the law requires) but an amended return was filed months later to claim "additional" expenses (as the law, oddly enough, permits.)

After the election was over? I've always been bothered by the government spending taxpayers' money to run its own polls when it should be doing it with party funds. But to do that and then claim it as an election expense ... well, let's not forget Woodward and Bernstein's investigation of Watergate started with campaign finance fraud, and a check that a totally honest war hero made out to himself (which represented cash contributions he personally raised, he had the check made out because he didn't fell comfortable carrying $25,000). He gave the check to the crooked chair of finance for Nixon's re-election campaign and that's what got the ball rolling.

The fact is campaign irregularities -- even if they are totally honest book-keeping errors -- are usually indicative of much bigger rot inside the ruling party, whether it's benign neglect or an attempt to subvert parliamentary democracy.

This goes beyond the necessity of Elections Canada having to do an internal investigation. since it's already made some matching fund rebates. This is a case for the Mounties, because it is a very very serious allegation. If -- and that's a big if -- true, then Stephen Harper and many of the members of his caucus who took part in "in and out" are crooks. If true, then the money should be paid back with interest along with any fines that might accrue for mail and / or wire fraud.

Even Jean Chrétien was generally careful to make sure no elected members were accused of, or could be accused of, in Sponsorgate -- the people who faced charges were non-elected and unaccountable appointees. Harper seems intent on either becoming a dictator along the lines of Singapore's Lee Kwan Yew (where the "democratic" elections are really a mirage), or bringing down the entire Con party with him. It's quite possible, and it is looking like, it could be the latter unless we get some answers and fast.

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