Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Yeah, But the CRA Never Kicked In My Door

Tory whip Jay Hill emits the government line in his column last Thursday:

I believe it rather timely today, the deadline for Canadians to file their income taxes, to demonstrate how the elections financing dispute between Elections Canada and the Conservative Party is just like a disagreement you may have with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

All the elements of the great conspiracy theory are in place: everything was legal, no documents were withheld, Elections Canada broke its own rules, and so forth.

What I wonder most about is this statement:

Elections Canada didn’t bother to notify any Conservative officials or their legal team that they wanted additional documents.

Surely EC must have detailed records of exactly what they requested when. If this is a lie, you would think that it is one easily uncovered.


buckets said...

Surely EC must have detailed records of exactly what they requested when. If this is a lie, you would think that it is one easily uncovered.

Yes, but as an institution EC will not be allowed to release such a document while the whole affair is before the courts. In theory, of course, some leaker might.

Gayle said...

One of the biggest lies in this whole affair is the CPC contention that EC had to ask them for documents.

There is a requirement in the investigators' manual the documents be requested and a search warrant only be sought if that request is denied. The CPC have been wailing about how no one ever asked them for the documents that were seized.

The problem with that little argument is this:

Here is the definition of “documents” in the manual:

“5.4 Election documents

“Election documents” are defined under section 2 of the Act and includes all the papers, which must be transmitted to the Chief Electoral Officer by the returning officer after an election.

5.5 Other documents

“Other documents” mean the various statements, books and records relating to an election campaign and which may be required for the investigation of an alleged infraction. This includes:

a) deposit slips, cancelled cheques and bank statements evidencing campaign expenses;

b) details of bills and vouchers related to the payment of campaign expenses;

c) list of contributions of goods and services;

d) statements and documentation supporting personal expenses of candidates;

e) loan agreements and repayment schedules, unpaid claims and judge’s order for the payment of unpaid claims;

f) records of contributions and official income tax receipts issued and recorded in the candidate’s return;

g) documents to support a judicial recount;

h) auditor’s report, declaration of the candidate, leadership or nomination contestant and the official or financial agent.”

The affidavit in support of the warrant lists “Items to be searched for”. They were seeking emails, memos, minutes from meetings, scripts for the ads, minutes from discussions about the ads, computers etc.

These things do not fit within the definition of documents in the manual, ergo there was no policy to first ask the party to provide them, ergo the policy was not breached.

Even if it were (and it wasn’t), the policy is not law and not binding on anyone. The judge who issued the warrant had to find reasonable and probable grounds that evidence of an offence would be found at the CPC headquarters before a warrant could be granted. He does not care whether the manual guidelines were followed.

At least I now know where this latest con line about how this is comparable with an Income Tax Act dispute comes from. OF course, the ITA creates offences for people who intentionally breach the legislation, which could result in jail time for the offender, so I am not sure why this comparison is considered favouable by the CPC.

Ti-Guy said...

There's the old CON job; arguing by comparison instead of by exposition and reason (and at this stage, I don't expect them to do anything else). Last week, this was just like a expensing a meal; this week, it's just like a dispute with the taxman. Next week, it'll just be like keeping the unspent portion of your per diem or...or something.

What dullards. And worse, they treat the rest of us as if were all as stupid as they and their supporters are.

Reality Bites said...

I would guess that the overwhelming majority of Canadians have never had a disagreement with the CRA.

People have disagreements with the CRA when they don't file, file late, can't back up their deductions with receipts or make questionable deductions. I would think the number of disputes with the CRA where the CRA isn't 100% in the right is quite small indeed.

We don't have to like paying taxes, and by externsion the agency that makes us do it, but few people question their competence or integrity. Most of us would actually prefer they didn't work to such a high standard.

Much, I suppose, the same way the Conservatives REALLY feel about Elections Canada. They're not incompetent or biased. They're all too competent for Harper's liking.