Thursday, March 10, 2011

Colour Me Shocked

Not. Over at David Akin's place, are a couple of documents every Canadian should read. They are the charging document of the four Conservatives involved in the "in and out" scheme and the decision from the Federal Court of Appeal on the lawsuit between the Conservative Party and Elections Canada.

There are many gems to be found in both documents, but I want to highlight this one. It goes to the core of the Conservative philosophy and does much to clear up the question of why they did what they did.
The Respondents argue that the CEOC’s statutory function with respect to candidates’
statements of election expenses is narrow in scope. Contrary to the Judge’s conclusion, the
Respondents assert that the CEOC is only authorized to review the documents submitted to him
pursuant to the Act. His function, they say, is limited to ensuring that all the statutorily required
documents have been submitted and, on their face, disclose that a candidate incurred an election
expense as defined in the Act.

[36] Once satisfied that an official agent has submitted the required documents, the Respondents
argue, the CEOC is under a duty to provide a certificate of compliance to the Receiver General, so
that candidates can be paid the final instalment of the reimbursement of their election expenses. The
Act confers no audit function on the CEOC with respect to candidates’ electoral campaign returns.
Hence, he is not entitled to go behind the documents submitted in order to determine if, for
example, candidates have in fact incurred the costs claimed as election expenses, or have correctly
stated the commercial value of goods or services provided to them
The Conservatives' believe that the state has no business telling private groups what they can and cannot do and so view every statute as being narrowly focused. In simplest terms they believe that if a law says you cannot kill someone with a gun, then it is ok to kill someone with a knife. In this case, they argue that Elections Canada has no right to look at anything other than what it is given by the parties and that it has no right to look into the information given to them by the parties, but must accept what it is given as true. This philosophy should give all Canadians pause. We have a governing party that believes itself to be the final arbiter of what is right and that the state has no business overseeing the legality of what it is doing. To me, this is gangsterism disguised as governing. Al Capone probably felt exactly the same about government interference in his rum-running business.
Recommend this Post


  1. Nonsense. This was a classic admin law decision -- the federal courts are disagreeing amongst themselves over whether Elections Canada was unreasonable or not in its decision, not over whether Elections Canada was RIGHT or not.

    One can be wrong but reasonable -- the courts are willing to show deference to administrative bodies to that extent.

  2. Correction: Elections Canada hadn't yet made a determination of the facts yet, so judicial review of it at the trial level was improper.

  3. I won't argue process with you, but the philosophy behind the Conservative Party's case is gangsterism, pure and simple. Imagine that philosophy applied to tax law. The state has no business auditing my tax return. All the state can do is accept the facts as I present them. If I say I make $50.00 a week and yet drive a Mercedes, the state has no business looking any deeper. It is lawlessness dressed up in Sunday clothes.

  4. Well... that's more or less what immigration law was reduced to, with Baker.

    Admin law would drive you nuts, Greg -- probably for the same reasons it drives me nuts, processwise, but for different reasons, policy-wise.