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Cons fail to block parliamentary probe into election expenses.

As mentioned in this article, it might end up being a moot point with the formal prorogue of Parliament conveniently taking place next week, but the Conservatives tried and failed to stop the House affairs committee from conducting an investigation into how the Conservatives conducted their campaign expenses. The attempts to stop it were rather comical. First, Gary Goodyear, the Cons chairperson, tried to rule that the committee couldn’t study the issue because it was an issue before the courts. Unfortunately for him, he hadn’t done his homework on trying to use that particular argument:

But the NDP pointed out that other parliamentary committees have studied issues before the courts, most notably the Liberal sponsorship scandal and the expenses of former Privacy Commissioner George Radwanski. Goodyear’s decision was quickly overruled by the opposition members on the committee during the charged meeting.

Our friend Pierre Poliviere then stepped up to the plate to try and do his obfuscating bit for the Conservative cause. He tried to amend the motion so that all parties would have to open the books to be studied since 1997, under the charge that if the opposition parties didn’t agree to it, the public would wonder what they had to hide. The opposition parties weren’t amused:

Opposition MPs reacted with anger and ridicule, and voted down the amendment….Bloc Quebecois whip Michel Guimond said he regarded the amendment as a threat, and told Goodyear he might have trouble in the future keeping his position as chairman. “You’re trying to hide the focus of why we’re here.”

The Conservatives playbook on how to disrupt committees is still being used, I see.

As I said, it’s really a pity that the Parliament is prorogued officially next week, because it would have been fun to see some Conservatives squirm, particularly if the Committee had called as witnesses the Conservative candidates and agents who complained to Elections Canada in the first place that things weren’t on the up-and-up with the advertising campaign.  The Cons. have been holier-then-thou over ethics and transparency in government, and this scandal is showing that they were talking out of both sides of their mouths on this issue.

It’s deliciously ironic that its a couple of their own party members who raised Elections Canada’s suspicions and started the ball rolling on this Con-Air investigation.


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