Green and growing

My story about being a Green politician in Canada, and why it was the best thing I ever did.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Election heat is off, but the soup is still simmering

Today, I had two experiences which suggest to me that our government still has election plans afoot. First, I received yet another useless flier from my MP at taxpayer expense. They had stopped for a while, but this is the second in a week. Then I received a phone call from the local Conservative Party asking me if I would be supporting my local candidate in the event of a federal election. Guess what I said.

Here we have another example of spending money outside of the election period so that it won't count in the election limit. My MP is being cautious, since Elections Canada caught him in 2006 $4,000 over the limit.

There are no limits on spending outside the election period. Perhaps there should be.


At 6:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm guessing you said something to the effect of, "I haven't voted Conservative in the past, but giving Harper a majority would make Parliament work better than having perpetual minorities..."



At 7:28 PM, Blogger Jim Johnston said...

Devin, I didn't think that fast. I'll remember that for next time.

At 5:27 AM, Blogger Ken Summers said...

Be careful what you wish for.

Elizabeth May is BY FAR the biggest spender outside of election periods. There isn't even a close rival- and I'd be surprised if there ever was one.

At 11:02 PM, Blogger Jim Johnston said...

Ken, show me your numbers, or I would have to say that your comment is a crock of shit.

At 8:04 AM, Blogger Ken Summers said...

From Elections Canada Central Nova EDA filings:

[Note that the EDA did not exist before the May headquarters was set up there in summer 2007. Expenses for 2008 are for the 11 months outside of the election writ period.]

2007 expenses $ 19,439.45
2008 expenses $ 72,402.22

There are no staff expenses reported, as there were none reported for the May campaign during the writ. But there has been more than one paid staff for 2 years, so you have to add that in also.

Plus, the non-staff expenses of the headquarters were $5,000 or more per month, so there is that expenses for 2009 through at least June.

So we are talking about a total in excess of $150,000 outside of the election writ period.

While I would not expect people to be familiar with the actual numbers, I did think the general idea was common knowledge by now. So I was surprised you called it a crock of shit.

But Elizabeth May did say back in March that she got no more support than any other Green candidate, and I guess most must have believed her.

At 6:12 PM, Blogger Jim Johnston said...

Ken, it would appear that in 2008, there were more than 200 EDA's across Canada that spent more than Central Nova, some in excess of $300,000, outside of the election period. Based on the criteria that you have suggested, Elizabeth is nowhere near the top. Plus, you are not considering at all the cost, born 100% by taxpayers, of the partisan fliers to which my original comment referred.

It seems to me that you have your mind made up and you are looking for data to support your position, rather than being objective about what the data says.

However, I do wish to apologize for my initial inflammatory comment on your post.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Ken Summers said...

There may be 200 of those EDAs that spent more than Central Nova, but take a look at them on a case by case basis.

If you look at Central Nova, the money went into the same expense categories as for a campaign, and to a similar proportionality- just less on advertising.

The Quebec wing of the [federal] Liberal Party uses quite a number of EDAs essentially as in and out shells for fundraising. The reasons for that are complex. Its legal. At any rate, the revenues and expenses don't look anything like an election campaign [although I think some of the ways they funnel money out are pretty dodgy]. The EDA that "spent" $300,000 I beleive is the one that received a property donation [from a bequest? because a straight donation would not be legal], and passed the funds along to the Quebec wing. Although it might also have just been the particular shell for one of their fundraising gigs.

The expenses for the Central Nova EDA are typical for what it is: a very extended campaign. Money is raised and spent locally [albeit it is raised across Canada from contributors the vast majority of whom also donate to the national party], transfers in from the party, expenses that you have for a headquarters, etc. It just runs MUCH longer.

I would suggest that you are the one who is looking for data to fit the conclusion you want to make.

Not really the point, but I am skeptical whether you could find 200 EDAs that reported more than $72K expenses in 2008. [Did you see some list with them ranked, or have access to the data and sorted it?] Some Ontario and BC Liberal EDAs are also used as shells. The NDP does not do that. And while I don't know that the Conversatives don't, its not consistent with their general structure of party-EDA relations.

But the main point is that its irrelevant how many EDAs reported more expenses than Central Nova. Central Nova DEFINITELY spent the funds on what we all know of as campaign expenses. I've looked at a LOT of the high expense/revenue reporting EDAs, and every other one of them it is apparent at a glance that it is not for conventional campaigning.

At 6:19 AM, Blogger Ken Summers said...

I should say Jim, that I wasn't trying to make a huge point.

I thought it was commonly understood that May's Central Nova campaign was very long running and not cheap.

So when you made the understandable comment that maybe candidates should be kept or limited from spending outside the writ, I pointed out that this would also include Elizabeth May.

As to those 200 hundred ridings that showed more expenses than Central Nova, I didn't realize when I last posted that except for Central Nova and the Liberal cases where the riding is being used a fundraising shell... those are all routine. They are all transfering that money to the candidate campaign during the writ period.

Unlike Central Nova which transferred nothing out because they were spending it before and after the writ period.


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