With almost tiresome predictability, the Harper Government is once again demonstrating its contempt for rules and procedures that work against it. In the latest example, as reported in today’s Globe, 11 senior Conservatives failed to appear before a Commons ethics committee investigating possible election financing fraud through what is known as an ‘in and out’ scheme, whereby, during the last election, the Conservative Party, in order to circumvent campaign spending limits, transferred sums of money to local ridings, ostensibly for local advertising, but then instructed the recipients to immediately transfer the funds back so they could be used as part of the national advertising campaign. On paper, the money looked as if it were being spent locally, thereby allowing the Conservatives to spend more nationally than is permitted by the Elections Canada.
Apparently, the Government has told those who are summoned that they should not appear, labeling the committee ‘a kangaroo court.’ Today’s report describes the inability of the committee to serve summonses on perspective witness who, mysteriously, cannot be found or are ‘on vacation,’ behaviour reminiscent and worthy of common criminals.
Unfortunately, the Harper Government, which made moral rectitude the centerpiece of its last campaign, seems to care little for the very sad example it is setting for the people of Canada. Indeed, they seem intent on bringing new meaning to the term “Contempt of Parliament.”