Ken Dryden pauses while outlining his platform during the Liberal leadership race at a news conference in Ottawa September 5, 2006.
Credits: FILE PHOTO
Neither did I, and chances are it will never happen, even though Dryden and three other former Liberal leadership candidates are now in violation of the Elections Act. Dryden, Joe Volpe, Hedy Fry and Martha Hall Findlay have failed to pay back their campaign debts from the 2006 Liberal leadership race despite more than five-and-a-half years of fundraising and two extensions.
The campaign debt should have been paid off by the middle of 2008. Back then, several other Liberals, including then-leader Stephane Dion, Gerard Kennedy and others, still had debts to pay. Rather than apply the law with an even hand, Elections Canada offered an extension rather than prosecution.
Now compare that to their treatment of Conservatives. In April 2008. Canada's "non-partisan" elections watchdog raided Conservative Party headquarters as part of a criminal investigation. The Conservatives took a different interpretation of how advertising could be bought and paid for on a campaign and had already taken Elections Canada to court to get a definitive ruling on the matter.
Then there was the kid glove treatment they gave to the NDP over a donations scam. In the wake of Jack Layton's death, the NDP asked for donations to the Broadbent Institute, a left-wing think-tank set up by a number of people associated with the party. The party was actually promising a 75% charitable tax credit, even though the institute still wasn't set up and did not have charitable status. The NDP was essentially renting out their charity number in violation of the law.
Their punishment? Nothing. They simply had to stop giving out tax receipts and offer refunds to people who felt duped. Do you think that would work if I robbed a bank or collected money for false investments?
Elections Canada has a spotty record on enforcement, one that runs on partisan lines. In the 2011 election, they turned a blind eye to clearly partisan third-party activity by the alleged charity known as Environmental Defence. The group, fronted by Rick Smith, took issue with statements from Environment Minister Peter Kent. Smith promised to run ads, make phone calls and knock on doors - in all, he promised to contact 50,000 homes in Kent's riding of Thornhill, Ont. Despite what was clearly partisan work aimed at unseating a candidate, Environmental Defence never registered as a third party as required by law. The result: A shrug of the shoulders from Elections Canada.
In 2008 a group out of New York City called Avaaz ran ads targeting several Conservative candidates; they wanted them replaced as NDP, Liberal or Green MPs. Ads that ran in Halifax newspapers were claimed as expenses for B.C. ridings, among other irregularities. In the group's American tax filing, they claimed to have spent $137,724 on Canadian political activity while Avaaz claimed just $57,733.83 in their filing to Elections Canada.
A complaint was launched; nothing was done. "Elections Canada does not and cannot monitor day to day advertising expenses incurred during and elections campaign," reads a document put out by Elections Canada.
Funny though, they seem to be able to monitor and prosecute Conservative advertising.