Ex-Chief Electoral Officer: There was no oversight on secret PMO fund

Julian Wolfe
June 12th, 2013

The former head of Elections Canada says the agency had no authority to probe the PMO’s secret fund and cannot probe the $90,172 cheque from former chief of staff Nigel Wright to former Conservative Senator Mike Duffy. The secret fund was first revealed by CBC but within 18 hours after acknowledging its existence, the Conservatives launched a sharp attack claiming it never existed and the CBC committed “shotty” journalism.

Former Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley said Elections Canada has absolutely no way of knowing the financial status of political parties in non-writ periods.

“There is nothing that Elections Canada imposes on political parties concerning their expenditures between elections,” Kingsley says.

The Conservatives maintain they had nothing to do with the $90,172 deal which ultimately led to the whitewashing of the initial Deloitte Audit.

The only oversight Elections Canada sees of political parties is an annual report which breaks down the year’s spending and incomes. Political parties use general and vague descriptions as classifications and “There is no verification whatsoever.”

Last month, current Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand told a Commons committee, “I don’t have a way of verifying specific expenditures. I don’t have access to receipts or invoices.”

However, Conservative MP Chris Alexander who defended the Conservatives and initially admitted there was a secret PMO fund for partisan spending said Elections Canada limits party spending.

“There are absolutely rules,” Alexander said. “It has to be an event that relates to party activities. Elections Canada has very meticulous, very detailed rules.”

However, Kingsley says that isn’t true.

“There are no rules of any kind,” Kingsley says. “There is nothing in the Canada Elections Act that prevents a party from spending money as it wishes.”

We’ve seen this with the relentless Conservative ad campaigns in non-writ periods that aim to complete their campaigning before any writ is dropped.

It is time the government push for stricter rules on party finances outside writ periods. One solution would be to have election spending limits imposed outside of the writ period and redefined to span from the end of one campaign to the end of the next. What do you think of the untouchable secret PMO fund? Was Duffy’s payout directly or indirectly drawn from that account?

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   Categories: Accountability, Integrity, Political Interference, The Duffy Affair


On Monday, the longest campaign in modern history will come to a close and if current polls are any indication, Canada may be seeing a change in government after 9 years of Conservative rule under the leadership of Stephen Harper. Accountability was his calling card in 2006 and today, accountability may very well be one of the defining reasons for his departure.

In its length, in its cost and in its debate schedule, this election is unusual. The first and possibly only real debate of the campaign ended and here are the highlights of what happened.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper left Rideau Hall this morning with Governor General David Johnston’s approval to drop the writ and Canadians are now officially headed to the polls on October 19. For the first time since fixed election date legislation was brought in by the Conservative government, a fixed election date has been followed.

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