NDP to defend Conservative MPs again, this time pending court ruling

Julian Wolfe
June 8th, 2013

Conservative MPs Shelly Glover and James Bezan are in legal trouble over financial filings from the last election campaign – Glover has the added accusation of running a misleading robocall campaign. Chief Electoral officer Marc Mayrand sent a letter to the Speaker, Conservative MP Andrew Scheer, asking that the two MPs be removed from the House of Commons. The Liberals asked for the letter, Scheer told them to find it online. The Tory MPs face serious allegations of electoral misuse and the NDP are going to support them on Monday.

There are no better friends for the Conservatives than the New Democrats. When Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro faced the heat over his involvement in the robocall scandal, the NDP chair of the committee looking into the matter shut it down to prevent persistent Liberal MP Scott Andrews from getting answers. Ever since, we have heard nothing of Dean Del Mastro or his involvement in the robocall scandal he so fervently denied.

In the last election campaign, the NDP joined forces with the Conservatives to attack Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals. While most in the country were looking for an alternative to Harper and wanted to prevent a majority government, the NDP, and their power hungry management pressed towards giving the Conservatives power on a silver platter. The campaign didn’t focus on Harper’s track record in government, it focused on then-Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff’s leadership and the NDP and Conservatives loved spinning their rhetoric. This lead to an NDP surge that’s built off a shaky base of Quebec nationalists who want to use the NDP as a vehicle to get to the promised land, a place the Bloc Quebecois could never take them – power. While yes, it is argued the NDP would benefit with a diminished Liberal Party, they got their bitter-sweet government that is working against all of its values. Perhaps values and principles are always the first to go in the pursuit of power?

The NDP are going to bail out the Conservatives again. Again, we note that one of the MPs being defended is accused of having a role in the robocall scandal. Hasn’t it been a long principle of the NDP to have MPs and governments follow the law and be accountable? So now that there is a possibility that two Conservative MPs may have broken election law, why would the NDP be proposing the accused stay in the House of Commons and overrule the advice of Canada’s chief electoral officer? Have they lost their principles? – Or do they have something at stake with the robocall scandal and the conduct of the last election campaign?

On a minor note, again, Scott Andrews is the Liberal asking for the law to be respected on election-related matters. Andrews raised a motion calling on the two Conservative MPs to be suspended from the House of Commons until they settle their legal issues – a perfectly valid motion seeing the Elections Act requires it and as how the legal issues have to do with the way they were elected to the chamber.

Both Glover and Bezan filed complaints and are fighting for the courts to overrule Mayrand’s proposal that they be suspended. The first of these cases will be resolved at the end of June.

NDP MP Craig Scott said, “We’re likely to say that there is a right of access to the courts that must be built into the timing of the suspensions,” arguing that until the courts rule, they should stay.

Scott said he’s concerned the courts may try and push the hearings as they did with the robocall case but stands by his stance.

“If the chief electoral officer prevails at the trial level, that’s sufficient for the suspension to go into effect, regardless of appeals,” Scott said. “That’s my current personal view.”

Both Glover and Bezan told the Speaker that their legal issues are accounting issues and they believe they are in compliance of the Elections Act.

Elections Canada has been after the two MPs for financial reports since a short time after the end of the 2011 election campaign.

However this could cause both campaigns to exceed their spending limits leading to punishment and that takes time.

Meanwhile, Glover faces allegations of spreading misleading and harassing robocalls to Liberal supporters in her riding in the last election campaign.

What do you think of the NDP’s decision to yet again defend the Conservatives on election-related matters? Could they have lost their principle? Do they have something to hide? Why defend the Conservatives in a matter of electoral conduct again when the law suggests there may have been an infraction?

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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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