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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Harper Cons Are Feeling the Heat on Quebec Ad Scheme

So the Cons are feeling the pressure of the national party funnelling funds through local constituencies into Quebec based advertising and allegedly exceeding legislated spending limits.

They have done some homework on Dion’s 2004 campaign and Steve Janke of Blogging Tories has done an interesting post on the findings. He seems to be alleging a Dion scandal with this post that parallels the Conservatives scheme. I will deal with the merits of the Janke claim in another post. In the mean time lets catch up on the recent developments om Cons version of Adscam.

The opening paragraph of the Janke posting reads like a Statement of Defence for the Cons in their pending Federal Court action. The Blog post provides what might be suggested as the redeeming fact they want us to focus on as the justification for the scheme.

The ad-scheme money was aggregated through an in-and out payment using the campaign bank accounts of 67 Con candidates across the country. The funds once back in the national party accounts were used to buy ads in certain regions of Quebec that were deemed winnable by the Cons. The justification for this scheme seems to be that while the ads were the same ones that were used by the Con in their national campaign they apparently had “the local candidates name added to the end.”

Since the funds were funnelled through the bank accounts of some 67 “local candidates” it would be expected the names added to the advertising would state that a certain candidate “authorized the ads.” Logically the names that should be added to the commericals would be those of local candidate’s whose bank accounts were used to funnel the funds – right? After all the way the schmes is set up it is supposed to look like those 67 candidates used their own campaign money to pay for the ads.

Media reports have indicated that some of the 67 candidates and their official agents did not even know the national campaign office of the Conservative Party was doing this funnelling through their campaign bank accounts. Classy don’t you think? If they can’t be open and transparent with their own candidates, on what basis do they think the rest of us should trust them?

I have not seen the Quebec ads that the Cons bought with the money they funnelled through 67 other candidate’s bank accounts. But my suspicion is any efforts to make the national campaign ad buy in Quebec look “local” was focused on the local Quebec candidates in the regions where the ads were purchased. The candidate "authorization" tag at the end of the commercials I'll bet at best was only the names of the Quebec regional candidates where the ads were televised.

The meltdown gets worse. The timing of the Harper Cons re-launch of their version of the famous “Sponsorship” program in the front page of the Globe and Mail could not have been worse. This is the program that has been working it way through the system for a while. There were media report that the former Minister (Bev Oda) was sending memos to her caucus asking for the Cons MPs to submit ideas for how this $30m could be spent in their local constituencies. Was that co-incidental to when Harper was trying to get traction for an election a few weeks ago?