Sunday, April 20, 2008

Raidgate: Warrant Details to be Released Monday

Via CBC:

A search warrant that led to last week's raid of Conservative Party headquarters will be released Monday by an Ontario court, but it was made public Sunday to some media by the Tories, the CBC's Keith Boag reported.

The Conservatives, who already have the warrant containing hundreds of pages of documents on CD-ROM, gave private briefings about it in Ottawa to select media, including the Toronto Star and CTVglobemedia, Boag said.

CBC News requested to attend the briefings, but was rejected and told by party spokesman Ryan Sparrow that it was a private meeting, Boag said, adding reporters from the Canadian Press, Maclean's magazine and Canwest Global Communications Corp. were also not permitted to attend.

Giving some reporters a briefing before Monday's court release of the warrant allows the party a chance to shape the story, but it also creates the impression that the Conservatives need to spin it, Boag said.

Gee. You think so, Keith??

The TO Star offers some hints of what's coming down:

Specifically, Lamothe [assistant chief investigator in the office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections] cited three potential offences under the Canada Elections Act.

The Conservative Party itself and the Conservative Fund Canada are separately alleged to have knowingly spent more than the allowable national $18.2 million limit. The Conservative Fund Canada is the party's fundraising arm, which is the official chief agent for its national campaign and has responsibility for administering and reporting financial transactions.

The third allegation comes under the obligation to file "true and complete reports." The allegation is that the party's official agent filed returns with Elections Canada "that it knew or ought reasonably to have known contained a materially false or misleading statement" on its expenses.


Senior party officials took the unusual step of briefing a limited number of reporters on the documents at a downtown hotel Sunday afternoon.

Speaking on condition they not be identified by name, they framed some potentially more damaging emails that Lamothe cited in his package.

One of those emails included an email by an employee at the party's media buying agency referring to a call from the head of the Conservative Fund, Irving Gerstein.

"They may be spending up to their legal limit on this campaign," wrote David Campbell advising others of Gerstein's call. "They are also thinking of 'switching' some of the time over to the ridings. It sounded like the reason was to legally maximize advertising expenditures."

A senior official said emails may contain "heated language" in the course of a campaign, but no evidence of illegality.

Sure. Uh huh. "Heated language". That should work.


But the officials denied the party deliberately sought to skirt national limits by using up spending room in local campaigns that were less likely to produce wins for the party, or that the Conservatives sought to direct media spending into ridings that were more likely to win them.

They scoffed at suggestions it might have made the difference in a dozen or so ridings and won the election, saying it is "crap."

Ah yes, "crap". That's always the best defence in court.

"Your honour, I object on the grounds that this is crap!"

Get your popcorn ready for Monday's question period and watch out for exploding grey matter.


CTV has more - including the Cons' game of "Where's Waldo the warrant?":

They scheduled briefings at an Ottawa hotel, but when word of the meetings leaked out to other media organizations, the party moved the briefings to another hotel next to their party headquarters.

Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale said the secrecy around the meetings likely did more harm than good for the Conservatives.

"Obviously, that smacks of desperation," he told CTV News. "What they've done is made their situation worse, because they look so guilty."

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