Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Letter To The Editor - Jan 2, 2007 - From Shane Dyson - Re: Conservative Donation Reporting

Shane Dyson is a community activist who has previously run for Township Councillor and for NDP MLA in Aldergrove/Fort Langley.
In light of the recent revelations of Conservative donation reporting as reported in CdnPress as well as the sudden resignation of J. P. Kingsley as reported in The Star , I offer a few comments below.
From Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's April 21 2005 speech, in reaction to Paul Martin's address to the nation:

"My fellow Canadians.We have all just witnessed a sad spectacle -- a prime minister so burdened with corruption in his own party that he is unable to do his job and lead the country, a party leader playing for time, begging for another chance.This is not how a prime minister should act."

And what would Stephen Harper say now that the Conservative Party of Canada is in a similar position of party corruption? In a recently revised Elections Canada financial report for 2005, the CPC acknowledges that the party did not report delegate fees collected for its national convention as donations, contrary to political financing laws.

More disturbing is their abysmal and near fraudulent accounting of "other revenue" and "other expenses".

In their amended report to Elections Canada, the Conservatives have "reclassified revenue related to the 2005 convention". The report now includes $539,915 in previously unreported donations, an extra $913,710 in "other revenue as well as a further $1.45 million in "other expenses."

In other words, they've just been caught in failing to disclose several of hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions) of donations. Much of this stems from not including delegate fees in their submissions to Elections Canada.

As a result, many Conservative financial donors, including Stephen Harper, have now been placed in the position of exceeding their annual political contributions limit.

The party has been required to send belated 2005 tax receipts to approximately 3,000 convention delegates. This will cause untold joy for those who now have to re-file their 2005 income tax return.

But worse than trying to skirt around on whether convention fees are donations or not, is the failure to disclose some $2,364710 in "other revenue" and "other expenses". That's a huge pile of cash to try and hide, especially when politicians place transparency in government on such a high pedestal.

It is remarkably ironic that this political financing chicanery has taken place by a party that proclaims its Federal Accountability Act as an ethical compass.

If only they had followed the rules, in the same manner that they have demanded the Liberals and others adhere to. But alas no.

The Conservatives, to their credit have tried to remedy some of this situation by acknowledging they must adhere to Elections Canada regulations. But it's not enough to send in an amended report and send out a few tax receipts.

We've yet to have an explanation of the "other revenue" and "other expenses". Imagine the outrageous and sanctimonious howls from Conservatives if the Liberals, New Democrats or Bloc Qubeccois had dodged reporting almost $1.5 in donations and other revenue.
In a November 8, 2005 news release, Langley MP Mark Warawa said: "People who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules have been let down by the Liberals. Canadians deserve nothing less than accountable government. The Conservative Party has a plan to renew faith in government; to instill a culture of accountability in Ottawa.

Well perhaps I can give one bit of advice to the Conservatives on this issue. It only takes a few Conservatives to come forward and say "Let's hold ourselves up to the same standards that we expect of other parties. Let's ask the Auditor General or maybe John Gomery to sort this mess out. We should deposit $1.5.M in a trust until a complete and independent audit establishes the exact amount that was improperly contributed to CPC bank accounts."

Unfortunately, not one Conservative will take the high road on this issue, even though it's the right thing to do.I guess the Conservatives can no longer throw the first stone when it comes to ethics.
Shane Dyson

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