Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in the House today and speak to the motion of my colleague, the hon. member for Beauséjour. I also want to share my time with the hon. member for Malpeque. I am looking forward to his comments in regard to the motion as well.
The in and out affair is troubling and illegal. It shows that the Conservatives think the rules do not apply to them. We have to ask where is their law and order agenda now, when they are at the heart of the matter?
It is part of a broader pattern of secrecy and deceit, and of contempt for the rule of law. It is part of a pattern which results in the gutting of access to information laws. It results in attacks on independent agencies and officers of Parliament. It results in attacks on Parliament itself, with Tories now questioning the cost of answering questions. In all of this there is no respect for democracy, for the principles of fairness and for our institutions like Elections Canada.
The Tories, especially people like the hon. member for Nepean—Carleton, like to claim that all parties engage in the in and out process. There are provisions in the Canada Elections Act which allow for honest and legal transfer of funds between local campaigns and the federal party. My own campaign did so honestly and legally in 2005, but we did not do so to avoid national campaign expenditure caps. We did not do so to allow local party organizers to claim rebates from the Canadian taxpayer that they otherwise would not have been entitled to.
Honest and legal versus dishonest and illegal; there is a major distinction. That is why the Conservative Party offices were the subject of an RCMP search. They were raided. It is why the Conservative Party and its officials now face charges.
If this is so innocent, as the Tories claim, why did the member for Simcoe—Grey and the former member for Dauphin—Swan River, Inky Mark, reject taking part? It did not pass the smell test with them and it does not pass the smell test with Canadians.
Unfortunately, in the process many good people, even some good Tories, are being harmed. In my riding of Labrador my opponent in 2006 was Joe Goudie, a long-time politician, activist and craftsman. We fought hard during the campaign and in the end the voters made their decision. Certainly I am humbled and grateful for their support.
However, in the process of that campaign, the national Conservative Party, from its Ottawa headquarters down the street from this chamber, implicated Joe in the in and out scheme. His campaign was invoiced, and it was spelled, “nvoice”, for $2,097. It had the same typo as dozens of other “nvoices” to Conservative campaigns across the country. That strange typo, “nvoice”, is what helped investigators realize something unusual was going on with the Conservative Party finances. They were phony.
I want to quote from an affidavit of the official agent of Mr. Joe Goudie during the campaign. He said, “On January 16, 2006, the sum of $2,097.20 was deposited into Mr. Goudie's campaign account by the Conservative Party of Canada. On January 17, 2006, the Conservative Party of Canada debited Mr. Goudie's campaign account in the amount of $2,118.20. The difference between the two amounts, namely $21, was the bank's transfer fee which was charged to Mr. Goudie's campaign account and to my knowledge this amount has never been refunded by the Conservative Party of Canada”.
In one day, out the next.
He went on to say and swear in his affidavit, “I did not realize what we had been drawn into until I saw the coverage of the in and out transfers in the media. In the end, all I have is my reputation and my integrity. The fact that I and our local campaign team were innocently drawn into this scheme by the Conservative Party of Canada angers me greatly”.
In all, there was over $1.2 million in the shady invoices for supposedly local TV advertising. That is a clever trick in Labrador where we have no local TV stations.
I want to refer to the affidavit of the campaign manager for Joseph Goudie who said, “I was told by Mr. Hudson, a Conservative operative, that the Conservative Party of Canada would be sending us money for advertising but that we would have to send the money right back to the Conservative Party of Canada”.
She went on to say, “Mr. Hudson said that the money would be used for national ads run locally. Our campaign had just started and we had very little money and so I asked Mr. Hudson if I could use some of that money to advertise on local radio and in the local newspaper. Mr. Hudson said no, that this money was for TV advertising and that we would have to pay for radio and newspaper ads ourselves”.
I then asked Mr. Hudson if the TV ads would mention or in any way reference Mr. Goudie’s campaign. He said the TV ads would be generic and there would be no reference to Mr. Goudie.
She then said:
To my knowledge, none of the television ads run by the Conservative Party of Canada during the election mentioned Mr. Goudie or his campaign either by spoken word or in writing.
She then summed up her feelings:
This whole thing really bothers me. When I begged for help from the Conservative Party of Canada, they wouldn’t even reply to my emails. It appears to me that the only interest the Conservative Party of Canada had in our campaign was to use us as part of this scheme. When I begged for help from the Conservative Party of Canada, they wouldn't even reply to my emails. It appears to me that the only interest the Conservative Party of Canada had in our campaign was to use it as part of this scheme. I had absolutely no reason to think or believe that there was anything wrong, or even questionable, about what Mr. Hudson told us to do. I simply followed instructions. I feel awful that we were used in this fashion. If I was the victim of one of those email scams, I wouldn’t feel any more duped than I do now for having been innocently caught up in this matter.
The spending that put the Conservatives over their national campaign limit resulted in improper benefits provided to Conservative riding associations. Let me make it clear that this was orchestrated by the Conservative Party at the national level. I want to return to the fact that Joe Goudie made it clear in his affidavit that he had no knowledge of impropriety. He did not know his campaign had even been involved until three years ago when his name came up on a TV newscast. He said he was used by the Conservative Party of Canada and that he has lost all faith in that party and its leader. Who could blame him?
Throughout this, Joe has done all the right things. He has been open in sharing what he knows and how his campaign was used by federal Conservative operatives. If only the Conservatives here in Ottawa could be as transparent and forthcoming. This illegal scheme illustrates how far the Conservatives will go in their quest for power. It is a shame.