Here, in plain language, is an explanation of the Conservative “In and out” scheme
Canada’s election laws set a limit on what federal campaigns can spend, in order to ensure a level playing field between parties, so that our elections are both free and fair.
These laws help ensure that people and not money determine the outcome of an election.
The four top Conservatives officials who ran the 2006 campaign have been charged with breaking those laws by exceeding the spending on national ads by $1.2-million.
They have been charged with electoral fraud, which is by definition, breaking the law to affect the outcome of an election. The charges were laid by the Director of Public Prosecutions – an office created in 2006 by Stephen Harper. If found guilty, the accused could go to jail.
Aside from the charge of election fraud, the way the scheme was carried out also involves allegations of forgery and an attempt on the part of 67 individual Conservative campaigns – 1 in 5 candidates in the 2006 election – to secure $777,000 in taxpayer funds they weren’t entitled to.
The four people who ran the Conservative campaign in 2006 are charged:
- Senator Doug Finley, Campaign Manager
- Senator Irving Gerstein, Fundraiser
- Michael Geniron Executive Director
- Susan Kehoe, Chief Financial Officer
- It is alleged that in the 2006 election, the Conservative campaign deliberately broke the legal spending limit by $1.2-million, in an attempt to elect Conservative MPs in battleground ridings. Already at their national legal limit, they used money from local campaigns on ads with no benefit to the ridings they took the money from. One Conservative Candidate whose main competition was the NDP got an anti-Liberal ad.
- In order to conceal the $1.2 million, the Conservative national campaign tried to create the impression the spending occcurred at the level of individual campaigns. To achieve this, they split up the $1.2-million and, in a 24 hour period, “washed” it in and out of 67 individual Conservative campaigns for MP: Hence the name, “in and out.”
- To support their story, the Conservative campaign allegedly used forged invoices from a private company, Retail Media of Calgary, in submitting their accounts to Elections Canada.
- The 67 individual campaigns then asked Elections Canada for a rebate total of $777,000 in taxpayers money they weren’t entitled to, since they hadn’t spent the money at all.
Two of the people charged are members of Stephen Harper’s inner circle, Finley and Gerstein were both appointed to the Senate by Harper. They are still members of the Conservative caucus and the Conservative Party.
Stephen Harper kicked Helena Guergis out of the Conservative caucus, though she was never charged with anything.
- Despite being charged with breaking the law, Finley and Gerstein are still in the Conservative Caucus, which means they still have a say in how our government is run.
- Despite being charged with breaking the law, Gerstein is still fundraising for the Conservative Party.
Two members of the Prime Minister’s inner circle are accused not only of breaking the law and undermining the integrity of free and fair elections in Canada, but of relying on forgery to do it.
It is not an administrative charge or a dispute about accounting. It is about a Prime Minister whose party may be willing to break the law to win an election an get into power.
By the Numbers
Though only four people were charged, the number of people involved with this scheme is huge:
67 Conservative Candidates in the 2006 Election – 1 in 5 – were part of the scheme.
The candidates involved were running in every province but Alberta:
- 12 in B.C.
- 2 in Saskatchewan
- 2 in Manitoba
- 14 in Ontario
- 27 in Quebec
- 2 in New Brunswick
- 3 in Nova Scotia
- 1 in PEI
- 4 in Newfoundland and Labrador
15 Elected MPs were part of it, including 5 Members of Stephen Harper’s Cabinet.
These are the current and former members of Stephen Harper’s Cabinet who were part of the scheme:
• Stockwell Day: Okanagan-Coquihalla
• Maxime Bernier: Beauce
• Josee Verner: Louis-Saint-Laurent
• Christian Paradis: Megantic-L’Erable
• Lawrence Cannon: Pontiac –
Other Conservative MPs who participated:
• Dick Harris: Cariboo-Prince George
• Ron Cannan: Kelowna-Lake Country
• Jim Abbott: Kootenay-Columbia
• Colin Mayes: Okanagan-Shuswap
• Jay Hill: Prince George-Peace River (retired)
• David Anderson: Cypress Hills-Grasslands
• Sylvie Boucher: Beauport-Limoilou
• Daniel Petit: Charlesbourg-Haute-Saint-Charles
• Steven Blaney: Levis-Bellechasse
• Jacques Gourde: Lotbiniere-Chutes-de-la-Chaudiere