Political ghosts

In the interests of political accountability, the constituents of Kootenay Columbia should know the local connection to the Conservative Party “in and out” financing scheme currently dominating the national political news.

MP Jim Abbott is one of 67 Conservative candidates from the 2006 federal election who, Elections Canada alleges, received Conservative Party money (which was then returned) as part of a complex “in and out” financing scheme.

These money transfers allegedly allowed the Conservative Party to exceed their national campaign spending limit by over one million dollars, at taxpayers’ expense.

In an attempt to investigate this matter, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics conducted hearings in mid-August 2008 (House of Commons, 2nd session, 39th Parliament, meeting #48). Official Agents for local Conservative campaigns were either summoned or subpoenaed to appear before the Parliamentary Committee. When summoned, Mr. Abbott’s Official Agent, Mr. Harvey Venier failed to appear before the Committee on August 13th. Other Official Agents also failed to appear, even when subpoenaed by the Committee. Eventually the Committee investigation ground to a halt out of sheer frustration.

Presently, Mr. Venier is the Financial Agent for the Kootenay-Columbia Conservative Party Riding Association. Yet given the uncertainty surrounding Mr. Venier’s conduct as an Official Agent during the 2006 federal election, his continued presence as an Executive Member of the Riding Association undermines the credibility of the entire organization.

The “in and out” financing scheme may date back to 2006 but the constituents of Kootenay-Columbia deserve to know the truth.

Brent Bush

Kimberley

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