Liberals allege Tories
"doped" their election ad spending [PoliticsWatch updated 5:10 p.m., September 5, 2007]
|Conservative television ads from the last
federal election are under Election Canada's microscope.
OTTAWA — A Liberal MP said Wednesday that an election financing scandal shows the Conservative party is no different than athletes who use performance enhancing drugs to cheat.
Liberal MP Dominic Leblanc made the comparison at a
lengthy technical briefing the Liberals held for reporters on
Parliament Hill to explain the somewhat complicated scandal
involving Canada's governing party.
Elections Canada and the Conservatives are in court disputing $1
million in transfers from the national campaign to local candidates
that was used for advertising spending. Elections Canada is
contesting the spending because the ads purchased by the local
candidates appear to be the exact same ads used by the national
campaign. And the commissioner of Canada's elections is
investigating whether the party exceeded campaign spending
"Is this much different from the athlete who uses illegal performance enhancing drugs to win a race or break a record?"
Leblanc asked. "It appears from this scheme, that the Conservative party ran an election in which they essentially doped their ad buy in an attempt to gain advantage over their competitors."
The Liberals also showed reporters two of the ads in question. The
Conservatives argue that the ads count as a riding expenditure
because the candidates' names appear on a tag line at the end of the
Other than the virtually unreadable tiny tag line listing local
candidates' names at the bottom of the screen, the local ads are
identical to ads that aired nationally.
While the Liberals are accusing the Tories of cheating in the last
election, they are carefully trying not to directly blame their
election loss on this issue.
"Nobody here is disputing the results of the last
election," Leblanc said. "I would not pretend that
that's the purpose of this."
"It's not up to me to dispute whether the Liberals should or
shouldn't have won the last election because of this alleged scheme.
Others may conclude if you change 11 ridings in the country you
might have a different result."
Within an hour of the Liberals' press conference, the Conservatives
trotted out an MP for the first time to publicly comment on the
Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre disputed Elections Canada's
interpretation of what is a local ad and characterized the
controversy a "free speech" issue.
"Local candidates decide what constitutes local
advertising," he said. "We're not going to have
bureaucrats or the Liberal party or anybody else take away the
freedom of speech of our local Conservative candidates to run the
advertising that best suits them with Conservative
Even though Parliament has been prorogued and will not return until
October 16, the Liberals are calling for a Commons to committee to
immediately launch an investigation into the Conservative ad
Poilievre said he supported an investigation of Conservative
election spending as long as all other federal political parties
open up their books from the last two elections.
"I'm sure the Liberal party will have some trouble explaining
what happened to the $40 million that went missing during the
sponsorship scandal. But if they want to talk about electoral
financing, particularly of their party in the province of Quebec,
then they're going to have to answer the same questions in the same
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