Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Standard Posting

*This post incorrected stated the Conservatives blocked a motion regarding Elections Canada in 2008; in truth, the block came this year and was only a few weeks ago. As such, the post as been edited to contain the proper information.*

 A few things to talk about today...

Firstly, let's talk about the latest developments in the Robocall Scandal. We'll firstly look at some newer developments about Maurice Vellacott's comments regarding Elections Canada. Some more observant people have noticed that Vellacott's comments contained some irregularities, mostly in the way that it confirmed that the Conservative Party was responsible for generating voter contact lists for regional campaigns.

Vellacott's comments showed that the regional campaigns were being given contact lists, which included telephone numbers, which are not provided by Elections Canada. (I may have erroneously claimed Elections Canada provides numbers in a previous post, so I stand corrected on that fact.)  Anyways, Vellacott''s defence to back up his claim against Elections Canada inadvertently confirmed that the National Conservative Party was responsible for providing voter contact lists.

What this proves is that the national party was at least involved in generating these lists, and would have had to provide this information for robo-calling. So, there's definitely a question there that needs to be answered by the Conservatives.

Secondly, it came out this week that the Conservatives blocked a committee motion that would have granted greater scope to Elections Canada to investigate irregularities and compel political parties to provide receipts for their expenses. The Conservatives scrambled on a defence for this one, with Harper (surprisingly) pleading ignorance over the issue and claiming that he was unaware Elections Canada needed more scope to conduct its business.

After a day of stumbling and muttering, the Conservatives signed on to support a NDP motion to move towards granting Elections Canada these new powers within the course of six months. It was surprising to see the Conservatives change their tune so quickly on this one, and many are wondering why the Conservatives were so quick to surrender on this one.

The obvious answer is that there's no way to positively spin denying Elections Canada more powers when the nation is embroiled in an investigation over voter fraud. Others are most suspicious, with one online commentator suggesting 'they signed on because they've finished shreding their documents.'

Now, that makes for an amusing visual, but (hopefully) isn't the case. I think it is far more likely that the Conservatives know that with the doubt they are already under they can't afford any more political cost in looking deceptive and denying Elections Canada more scope to conduct investigations.

Furthermore, the Conservatives are begrudgingly accepting this motion. How can you tell? Because they are still refusing to hand over their documents to Elections Canada. They continue to say that their documents are 'available', but that Elections Canada hasn't asked for them...And as such, they're not going to just hand them over as they've demanded the NDP and the Liberals do.

(After all, as far as I know, Elections Canada hasn't asked the opposition parties to hand over any documentation, but they're moving towards releasing this information anyways. The Conservatives are the only ones refusing to hand over their documents without being asked.)

And finally, we come to a slightly connected story: The Conservatives have abandoned their court challenge against Elections Canada over the in-and-out scandal, and will not appeal the decision made by a lower court before the Supreme Court. This means the Conservatives will have to pay almost a quarter of a million dollars to the agency for overspending during the 2006 Election.

It also does nothing to take away from the sting of having to plead guilty to related charges in order to prevent several higher Conservatives members from facing jail time. I say this is related for two reasons; accusations continue to swirl that in-and-out tactics were used in the 2011 Election by the Conservatives in Quebec with regards to robocalling.

And secondly, because the middle of another scandal is the perfect time to bury the hatchet over another scandal before people really start asking questions.

I'm sure we'll have more of this in the days to come.

Speaking of appeals, that brings us to the Saskatchewan Government's decision to appeal a court ruling which struck down their essential services legislation as unconstitutional. There's two reasons that Wall Government is using for their reason to appeal the decision.

Firstly, that the government is committed to essential services legislation and determined to have some kind of law for it on the books. And secondly, that the appeal makes it seem as though a person has a Charter Right to Strike; which they say sets a dangerous precedence in Canadian law.

Well, at least they sort of admitted to at least being slightly ideologically driven to ram this bill through. But the question is whether or not a person has a constitutional right to strike? While it might not officially be on the books, we have to consider a few things...

A strike is essentially a peaceful form of protest, which is indeed covered by the Charter, but is a strike the same thing as a peaceful protest?

This is where we're not going to find agreement. Some people will say that strikes are a form of demonstration and constitutionally protected. Others will attempt to argue that the two things are apples and oranges.

Truth be told, I'm not even sure if I buy the argument myself....But, I am by no means a legal scholar. So, perhaps someone with more legal knowledge than myself can determine whether or not such an argument is even true in the first place.

And finally, a congratulations to Vaughn Schofield for being named Saskatchewan's newest Lieutenant Governor.

Though I knew nothing about Her Honour before her appointment, I look forward to seeing how she addresses her role and presents the office to the people of Saskatchewan. Hopefully, she can live up to the poise, grace, and skill that others have brought to the office.

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