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The Ins and Outs of ConAdScam

From August 30, 2008

On April 15, 2008, RCMP officers raided Conservative party headquarters in Ottawa. They were executing a search warrant at the request of Elections Canada, to secure documents related to ConAdScam, also known as The In and Out Scandal...

During the 2006 election campaign things were going well for the Conservatives - too well, apparently. The party had picked up a cool $19.5 million dollars, which, due to Elections Canada law, was $1.3 million dollars more than they could legally spend during the campaign. For an ethical party this would have been a problem (or, rather, not a problem at all) but the Harper Conservatives had a plan, and it would only involve the complicit fraud of 67 Conservative Party campaign managers.

The scheme was straightforward enough - transfer the extra money from the federal account to the candidates' accounts and then, a few days later, they would transfer it back up to the national advertising campaign. Totally illegal, yet they might have gotten away with it had they left it at that. But then the campaigns (including those for cabinet ministers Maxime Bernier, Lawrence Cannon, Christian Paradis, and Josee Verner) wrote up receipts for the $1.3 million in kickback money and submitted them to Elections Canada to get themselves a 60% reimbursement. Not too smart.

Of course, the House of Commons is no stranger to corruption and misconduct, but it is usually restricted to individual lobbyist or cronyism deals. The In and Out fraud employed by the Conservative Party during the 2006 election reveals something worse - a fundamental disrespect for the integrity of Canadian democratic elections.

A political party that is willing to throw principles and all semblance of integrity out the window that easily is not a group of people to be trusted as parliamentary representatives.