Conservative Party Riddled in Scandal

Julian Wolfe
March 4th, 2011

The Conservative Party of Canada is taking fire from left, right, and center over election spending in the 2006 election and in an election that has yet to happen.

The Star reported on Mar. 3 that a member of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s staff resigned after Kenney was accused of using his MP letterhead to raise funds for a Conservative party campaign that is against parliamentary rules.

The accusation came after New Democrat MP Linda Duncan received a letter in her mail asking for money for a “Conservative Ethnic Paid Media Strategy,” The Star reported.

The letter asked for “an additional $200,000 of financial commitment.” It also stated: “Given the current political environment, we hope to have commitments by March 11, 2011.”

NDP MP Pat Martin told The Star that Kenney is “abusing his offices, abusing his privileged for a clearly political motive.”

Alykhan Velshi, a spokesperson for Kenney has since told CTV via email that “the employee responsible for this matter has offered the Minister his resignation and the Minister has accepted it. Minister Kenney has taken responsibility for this and has apologized for his former employee’s actions. Using parliamentary or government resources for partisan activities is completely unacceptable.”

This follows on the heels of charges that were laid against the Conservative Party and four of its members. The 2006 election gave Prime Minister Stephen Harper his first days of governance and it is now being turned against him. CTV reported that Elections Canada has charged his party for spending $1.3 million more than the $18 million allowance.

Senator Doug Finley, a former campaign manager, Senator Irving Gerstein, a chief party fundraiser, Michael Donison, former executive director, and Susan Kehoe, a senior Conservative staffer are expected to face the maximum penalty available for the charges which include fines of up to $2,000 each for each charge and/or a jail sentence, as reported by CBC. The Conservative party itself will face two charges and will be fined $25,000 for each.

“We’re disappointed that administrative charges have been laid by Elections Canada after losing in federal court and not waiting for the appeal court decision in this matter,” a senior Conservative official told CTV. According to CBC, proceedings from the charges will be heard in court on March 18 in Ottawa.

“Our position’s been very clear. We respected the rules that were in place at the time,” Harper told CBC reporters as he explained that the charges were laid as part of a five year dispute.

CTV reported that Official Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff said, “It’s not some candidate way out in a forgotten riding. This is the central organizing team of the Conservative Party of Canada accused of serious election violations.”

“This is a prime minister who thinks he makes the rules and now he’s been found accused of breaking the rules.”

Michael Ignatieff in a report on CBC

In an article on The Gazette, Ignatieff said that “[election-spending] rules are at the very foundation of our democracy.”

Update: For a full record of Harper’s scandals and mandate, click the image below and read “The Harper Government.”

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