Friday, September 02, 2011

All Eyes on Elections Canada

How Broadbent Institute treated in wake of scandal will speak to impartiality, credibility of EC

Eventually, Elections Canada was bound to get it right.

In the wake of an appeal by the NDP, to its followers, to donate money to the fledgling Broadbent Institute -- a think-tank which is so fledgling that it hasn't even been incorporated yet, which prevents it from accepting donations.

The NDP came up with a very simple solution: accept the donations, made in the memory of the late Jack Layton, on the think tank's behalf, and hold it until the institute is incorporated.

This turned out to be contrary to the Elections Act. Not only was it illegal for the NDP to accept these donations on the Broadbent Institute's behalf, it was actually illegal for them to solicit the information in the first place.

To its credit, Elections Canada, which turned a blind eye to the electoral fraud committed by the Ruth-Ellen Brosseau campaign -- they submitted nomination papers to the Elections Canada featuring signatures that had been falsified -- got this one right. They advised the NDP that it was unlawful for them to accept these donations.

However, there is still much to be seen about how well Elections Canada can be trusted to treat the Broadbent Institute impartially. The NDP has very clearly demonstrated a direct relationship between itself and the Broadbent Institute.

This should prohibit the Broadbent Institute from registering as a third party at election time -- acting essentially as an extension of the party, and potentially allowing it to exceed election spending limits either at the national level, or in individual constituencies.

The NDP may wish to pretend that the Broadbent Institute is completely separate from the party itself. These recent events have exposed that notion for precisely what it is: pure bullshit.

It's with this in mind that Elections Canada would be required to reject any third-party application from the Broadbent Institute come the 2015 federal election.

Whether or not they actually will seems far from certain, and remains to be seen. Elections Canada can expect to be watched very closely when it comes time to make that decision.

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