The investigation into the election financing scheme of 2006, began after a conversation between Denny Pagtakhan, the son of Elizabeth Pagtakhan, 2006 Conservative candidate for Vancouver East, and Elections Canada auditor, Rani Naoufal.
Naoufal wanted an explanation for the $29,999.70 transfer from the Conservative Canada Fund, into his mother's campaign account on January 18, 2006, that was immediately withdrawn but expensed out as advertising.
Pagtakhan's answer set off a chain of events, that resulted in an RCMP raid on Conservative Party headquarters. "I think we contributed to TV national advertising. There was no way we can spend our limit so we were asked by the Party if we can help contribute."
This was quite a revelation, because what this young man described was illegal under the Elections Canada Act, since it not only meant that the Conservatives could exceed their legal spending limits on advertising, but it also meant that they would be able to receive taxpayer funded credits that they would not and should not be entitled to.
And that is one area where we have to focus. The conbots are out defending the extra one million plus in advertising, suggesting that there should be no spending limits. That is something that Stephen Harper has been fighting for years, even suing the Canadian people, in a challenge aptly called Harper vs Canada.
But let's look at this from the other angle. The rebates.
Jean-Marie Pineault, 2006 Conservative candidate for Drummond PQ, had $45,412.89 deposited into his account by party central and withdrawn the next day. His expense sheet shows this figure under advertising and telephone (cost of wire transfer).
Without this his total campaign expenses were only $8,442.68 and yet he received from Elections Canada a cheque for $11,408.04. Now remember where Elections Canada gets their money. From the taxpayer.
This means that not only did we fund his entire campaign, but we also gave him a bonus of $2,965.36, just for showing up.
Gary Caldwell running in Compton-Stanstead, had 37,238.17 come in, go out, and be recorded as advertising. Without this transaction his campaign expenses were $9,700.32, and yet he received a rebate of 11,014.17.
So again, we funded his entire campaign, and we gave him a bonus of $1,313.85, just for showing up.
These clever little transactions cost the Canadian taxpayer $777,000.00. So do you still think this was just about the party overspending on an election? This was also about defrauding the Canadian taxpayer. Us. The we's.
And they knew exactly what they were doing.
Mark Mayrand, Chief Electoral Officer, told the committee looking into the matter "that the transfer of funds from the Central Campaign to the Riding Associations, is permitted. What is not permitted is the transfer of expenses of the local candidates campaign."
Because this transfer of expenses meant having to make fraudulent claims.
Official agent and candidate both sign off and attest that the expenses occurred in the local campaign and at fair market value. Both the Conservative candidates and their agents who are under investigation apparently signed the required documents even though they knew that the expenses were not incurred locally by their campaigns.It also meant that receipts had to fabricated, so that the candidate had something on record to "validate" the expenditure. The company handling the national campaign confirmed that they never issued receipts to local ridings, only the Conservative national headquarters.
So if a Conservative supporter tries to tell you that's it's no big deal, stealing money from taxpayers is a very big deal. And that is what happened here.
Ironically, Harper plans to run against the $ 1.95 per vote subsidy, suggesting that taxpayers shouldn't be funding election campaigns. Apparently, he believes otherwise.