Green and growing

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

Monday, February 28, 2011

The missing headline on election spending

Last week, Elections Canada charged the Conservative Party and four senior officers with a number of violations of the Elections Act. According to news reports, these charges all stem from the in-and-out scheme from the 2006 election. There has been much discussion about this on the news and on the internet, including the Prime Minister's statement that the issue is essentially an accounting dispute.

But there is a missing piece which has not been reported on, as many of those involved in political reporting and blogging know this information, and likely assume everyone else does, too. Parties receive federal subsidies (= your tax dollars) to the tune of 50% of expenses, 60% for local campaigns. So, by claiming an additional $1.3 million in expenses, we Canadians wrote the Conservative Party a cheque that was about $650,000 to $780,000 bigger than it should have been.

To put this in perspective, if you or I filed an income tax return and neglected to mention $1.3 million in income, thereby depriving the Receiver General $750,000 of income, there would be hell to pay. Of course, we could just claim that it was an accounting issue, but I am pretty sure that Revenue Canada would not simply accept that and let it go.