There were two major developments in the ongoing, CBC-led investigation of election misconduct by Harper regime governmental affairs minister Peter Penashue in Labrador. First, it was alleged by the Liberals and by the CBC that Penashue’s campaign appears to have taken a $5500 donation from a corporation. This is illegal under the election law: corporations and unions cannot donate to political parties. Individuals can donate, but only up to a maximum of $1100.
The weirdest part about the whole saga is that Penashue is already known to have flagrantly violated the election law. It was reported over the summer that his campaign violated the spending cap law. Everything that had happened since then — the mysterious loan from an in-law’s development company, the massive cost overruns on his airfare (which were partially written off, perhaps illegally, thus bringing his “actual” spending back down to the spending limit or thereabouts), the alleged corporate donation, and all the rest — all of this is just extra. We know he broke the elections law. Yet he is still in Cabinet, still in the Conservative caucus, and more importantly, still uncharged by Elections Canada. How is this state of affairs even conceivable?
Anyhow, in relation to the other allegations, the latest one isn’t even that bad. The Penashue campaign has a deposit slip from its bank account indicating a $5500 donation from Pennacon. It dispensed tax receipts in smaller, legal amounts to various directors of that company. Now, it’s possible that Pennacon made an illegal donation and the Penashue campaign tried to cover it up by writing bogus tax receipts — something which indicate illegal behaviour on both sides, and fraud on the part of the campaign. It’s also possible that Pennacon held a fundraiser at which the individuals in question put a bunch of money in the pot, the campaign took the money to the bank, and just decided to save a few penstrokes when filling out the deposit slip. It’s possible. It should be easy to find out — just ask to see the cheques. The bank presumably has a record of this, too, and that would clear up this particular matter. Not the other matters, though.
Here’s the most comforting part of the CBC coverage, though:
the “PMO is so concerned about this situation that officials from the party’s headquarters will soon be travelling to Labrador in order to continue their review.”
Oh good. The Conservative Party is going to investigate itself here, instead of making Elections Canada get involved. I’m sure they’ll straighten everything out to everyone’s satisfaction.
We’ve down this road before. When the robocall scandal broke earlier in the year, the Conservatives were reportedly launching a major internal investigation to get to the bottom of it. That was shortly before it was publicly reported by Postmedia that the internal party database access logs that might identify the guilty party had been mysteriously erased.
Eventually I’ll fulfill my promise to make a list of the election misconduct allegations made in the past couple of years. The Conservatives will figure prominently on this list.Tweet