Added: April 23, 2008 Category: News & Politics
Title: Holy "Good Con , Bad Con ", Batman !Discussion on: the Conservative Party In-Out election finance scheme; and,
© Lloyd MacIlquham, all rights reserved, 23 April, 2008,
Lloyd MacIlquham, B.Sc., M.Sc., J.D.
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Last time Batman and Robin were discussing the Harper regressive, conservative right wing ideology of "Obscure and Obstruct" in the curtailment of access to information and its impact on our civil and human rights.
Meanwhile back in the Bat Cave, Batman and Robin are enjoying a leisurely breakfast, reading the local newspaper.
Robin: Holy revelations , Batman, what’s this I read about Elections Canada searching the Conservative party’s headquarters.
Batman: That’s right Robin, it is, apparently, regarding the Conservative Party’s spending policies during the last election on advertising, whether they nationally spent above their limit and whether certain local campaigns claimed campaign expenses for advertising in contravention of the Elections Act.
All this to the tune of over 1 million dollars.
Robin: That’s a lot of money, Batman, this sounds quite serious.
Batman: Your right, Robin, it is serious not simply because of the scale but also, as some of the opposition are pointing out,
given the closeness of the election, spending an extra million dollars on national advertising in a national campaign could, possibly, have had an impact on the outcome. Although they also point out that this could be hard to establish. However, Robin, we may have to wait until we see the results of the search.
What we can infer, however, is that Elections Canada, reputed by many around the world as an icon of integrity and stalwart upholder of democracy, is taking it very seriously.
Robin: Certainly in the case of something so fundamental to our way of life as electing the Prime Minister and ruling party,
it is not whether it can be proved to have had an impact, but whether there is more than a mere possibility it had an impact.
Batman: That’s right, Robin. "Fair Elections should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done" (to borrow a fundamental truism).
In the last election the Conservative Party won 124 seats and lost 184 seats, a majority being 153. In the next election there may be well over 100 seats that can be considered a write off for the Conservatives.
The spending limit is approx. $80,000. If such local campaign is ordered to spend no more than, say, $20,000 themselves and engage in the "In and Out" scheme for the balance, that makes an additional $6 million above the spending limit of approximately $18 million on the national campaign, all of which would be
directed towards national advertising. Given that the Conservative Party is raising much more in funds than any of the other parties, this could give them a huge advantage and could very well have an impact on the results. Also, the local Conservative Party campaign would receive additional Canadian tax dollars of $36,000.00.
That would be a total of $3.6 million overall of our tax dollars. And, these are very conservative estimates. “David Dunne, a marketing professor at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, said it's tough to measure the money's impact on the final results. Still, he said extra funds will boost an
advertising campaign's visibility, and increase its chance of success.
‘In a political campaign, frequency is very important,’ he said." (G&M, “Spending to Win”, 23 Apr.’08)
Robin: Great Loop Holes, Batman, wasn't Conrad Black's undoing based on implementing an interpretation.
So say some, Robin, and sometimes it depends on how it is implemented as well. This may be part of the basis for Elections Canada’s very unusual and extreme actions.
Robin: Holy Banana Republics, Batman, surely the Conservatives have an explanation.
Batman: It seems their position is that what they did was a legal interpretation of the Elections Act and they have been up front about it all. They are apparently claiming the Liberal Party and other parties do the same thing. They also seem to be accusing Elections Canada of having a vendetta against Harper and the Conservative
Party; and, further, seem to be claiming that Elections Canada has a bias towards the Liberal Party since they didn't investigate them for the Sponsorship scandal.
Robin: Great Caesar`s ghost, Batman, are the Conservatives still Harping on that Batman.
Batman: It seems so, Robin. It must be kept in mind that being investigated does not in itself mean you are guilty. However, certainly with something so important as electing our Prime Minister, one might expect that the Conservative Party would welcome such investigation and do everything to avoid making such accusations which may give the
impression of trying to obscure and obstruct. This is especially if they are firm in their conviction that what they have done is within the law; and especially since Harper is the Prime Minister. Otherwise, are we any better than the so called "Banana Republics".
Robin: When is Harper and the Conservative Party going to cease their standard ploy of “obstructing and obscuring”, or as the G&M (2 Apr.’08, “From stridency to distractions”) has referred to it "a dizzying array of rhetorical devices", and stand up to be judged on their own actions.
Batman: Holy Lack of Leadership, Robin, [oophs] certainly that is a hallmark of leadership. Presumably in the election they may very well be required to be accountable and transparent regarding their actions.
Great Pink Slips, Batman, perhaps the Election Commissioner's days in office are numbered.
Batman: Perhaps, Robin, that may be well within Harper's capabilities. But, perhaps Harper and the Conservative party's days in office are numbered.
Robin: Holy Proof is in the Pudding, Batman, surely if the Conservatives are so sure about the correctness of their scheme, they can demonstrate it by using it again in the next election. In fact, maybe they could call an election themselves right now.
Perhaps, Robin, but with the fixed election date it may be that that
would be tantamount to acknowledging a lack of confidence by the Canadian people.
Robin: Holy Show Good Faith, Batman, what can they do to demonstrate to the Canadian people their bona fides and confidence in their position.
Batman: Well Robin, Harper could, for one, go in front of the good people of Canada right now and make an unequivocal and clear statement that he and the Conservative Party will employ the exact same scheme in the next election. Certainly not doing so could raise doubts about the firmness of their convictions. It may be that their
interpretation is allowed, after all, and if so, certainly such a statement now would show leadership.
Robin: Holy Back Peddling, Batman, didn’t Harper do just the opposite yesterday, when he said if the official interpretation of the law changes then the Tories will adapt. (CTV, 22 Apr.’08, “Harper says Tories
followed spending rules”).
Batman: Apparently, Robin. We can let the people of Canada decide how solid is Harper’s conviction that their position is correct. On the other hand, it seems, we have a number of top Conservatives applying all these dizzying defenses. Perhaps this is just another “obscure and obstruct” ploy.
After all, Harper's M.O. is tight control,
its hard to see this not being a very closely coordinated media
Robin: Holy Good Con – Bad Con , Batman. Didn't we see this with Flaherty's media assault on Ontario.
Batman: Evidently, Robin.
Robin: Perhaps Dion could force an election. Surely, he might find that in an election people all across this fair land asking themselves, as apparently some already are,
You may have a point, Robin. Harper did run on clarity and things are becoming much clearer.
Robin: Holy Ground Swell, but Dion might not be considered a good leader.
Batman: Robin, the Liberal Party has many fine members
Good leadership in a modern, democratic, economically developed society is not one person imposing his/her will on all the rest. Good leadership refers to the whole and not one part. It may seem that Dion may become Prime Minister despite himself, but it is the Liberal Party that would lead our great nation.
It would seem that Harper has missed this entirely.
Batman: Or, perhaps, Harper is finding it lonely at the top.
Robin: But, what about the Liberal Party support for Dion.
Good question, Robin. Perhaps it is time for all Liberals to join together to support Dion. Perhaps that is the signal he is waiting for.
Robin: But how, Batman, can he be convinced of this.
Batman: Perhaps, Robin, the Liberal Party could join together to assist Dion in retiring his debt from the leadership race. This might demonstrate to the people of Canada just what it means to be a Liberal and that they are a united, committed party very much capable to lead. It might also free him of a distracting concern.
What can we do about the damage to our country and way of life caused by Harper and the Conservatives being in power.
Batman: Sometimes it is not possible to undo all the damage done. Everyone should keep in mind that who runs this country does matter.
Dion has indicated he may very well undo some of the damage. But, I don't know if all of it can be undone. What I do know is that we've got to get our Canada back, Robin, before it's too late.
© Lloyd MacIlquham, all rights reserved, 8 January, 2008-01-17