Peter Penashue – Deception or Ignorance?

With the case of Conservative MP Peter Penashue’s overspending, donation irregularities and airline write-offs one must ask as disdainful as it is, was he being purposely deceptive or was he just plain ignorant of the rules? In response to the allegations before him, Penashue hid away from the opposition and media and later reappeared in his home province where he released an online cop-out where he blamed his official agent for any mistakes.

Penashue’s official agent for the 2011 campaign was Reg Bowers who responded to Elections Canada at one point by stating, “Given the circumstances, record keeping and budgeting did not get the top priority. In the beginning we had very limited funds, we couldn’t get internet connection and, as mentioned, very limited help so there was a lot of wasted time running back and forth using my own computer and resources. We had to make the most of what we had and what we knew and I got advice wherever possible.”

In response to being blamed by Penashue, Bowers stated, “When it left my desk, it was under the cap.”

Bowers was removed as official agent for Penashue after being replaced by the Conservative Party’s chief financial officer. For his work Reg Bowers was rewarded with a golden position as a federal appointee on the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.

So with the overspending and irregularities in his electoral campaign return, including possible corporate donations, the question of deception or ignorance is a valid one. Penashue seems content to blame the official agent yet every single candidate for election in Canada must go through the same procedures in order to run for office and at the end for their candidate electoral campaign return. Penashue ran for the Conservative Party of Canada – the same party that likes to brag about their deep pockets and top-notch campaign team, yet this combo failed to stay within the rules and when caught out – flail about with blame.

So how is that candidates for the parties with no seats like the Christian Heritage Party or the Canadian Action Party who neither have deep pockets or election winning campaign strategists, managed to fill out their forms correctly and stay within the rules, but Penashue could not? They also had rookie official agents and candidates, and also had to wade through the same Elections Canada literature, regulations and forms – but with one glaring difference – they appear to have got it right and stayed within the rules.

Penashue should also explain how and why he signed his name to the following without knowing that everything was correct and within the rules:

Elections Canada form EC 20120 (all candidates must sign this declaration)

I hereby solemnly declare that to the best of my knowledge and belief:

– the information contained in this return is correct;
– all election expenses in respect of the conduct or management of the election have been properly recorded;
– no money, goods or services have been provided by way of loan, advance, deposit, contribution or gift during the election, except as appears in this return; and
– no other person or entity has, on behalf of the candidate made any payment or given, promised or offered any reward, office, employment or valuable consideration or incurred any liability on account of or in respect of the conduct or management of the election, except as specified in this return.

I make this solemn declaration conscientiously, believing it to be true and knowing that it is of the same force and effect as if made under oath and by virtue of the Canada Evidence Act.

To all of this Penashue has managed to say, “I’m not quitting, I’m not quitting. It’s very important to me that my constituents understand the allegations and the comments being made.” We would all like to understand how Penashue signed his name to the EC 20120 declaration without knowing if it was correct or not. Someone wishing to take on such an important role as MP should ensure that anything they put their name to is above-board and factually correct. Is that too much to ask?

So if there was no deception intended, was it down to just ignorance of the rules? Outside of Parliament each of us is held to our actions and in our places of work if we managed to bungle something so important and then sign our name to it – most would be facing the unemployment line. The least we can do is hold our elected officials to that same standard. PM Harper thus far is standing by his man.

Contributed to the Federal Politics Journal by Roy Whyte.

New Federal Politics Journal Starts Today

Today marks the start of the new Federal Politics Journal. We have begun work on the website and social channels.

The Federal Politics Journal will include writers and video bloggers from Canadian federal political parties and their supporters. Members or representatives of federally registered political parties in Canada are encouraged to sign up and have their voice included.

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2011 Federal Election Voter Turnout

The 2011 federal election is just over a month away and it will be interesting to see if Canadians are more apt to vote this election than they did in elections of the recent past. Voter turnout in Canada has been slowly eroding away except the minor uptick in the 2006 election. Will that upward trend continue?

One thing is for sure, those who follow politics sure seem to want an election. Conservative supporters want a majority for their party so that they don’t have to weave their way through a sometimes hostile opposition to push through their agenda. The opposition parties are looking to push the Conservatives down in numbers with the possible aim of setting the stage for a coalition, or for them a more advantageous minority government. The Liberal Party has already stated a coalition is not in the cards, but early polls don’t show much hope for them to grab the lead away from the Conservative party. But that’s some of the thoughts of those more connected to Canadian politics on the federal level – the average uncaring or jaded Canadian it seems is not so keen on voting again so soon. There doesn’t seem to be a push from any group or corner to rally non-voters to actually vote and if they don’t start early this campaign they might not succeed even if they try.

With 14,908,703 Canadians out of the possible 23,054,615 eligible to vote actually having done so last election, one thing is clear – that isn’t great. Some 35% are not exercising their right to vote. There is of course a myriad of reasons for why this occurs but it does have consequences. The biggest losers may be the Green Party who attract many younger voters. But it is this same group that doesn’t vote in large numbers. Seniors who vote more often than not are supporting the old-line parties on the whole and those two together translates into a direct effect on the outcome of the elections.

Some say electoral change may be the way forward but where it has been pushed to the fore it has failed, such as in British Columbia where the voting public voiced their displeasure of the idea. Mandatory voting is another possible solution. This too would have some game changing ramifications if it were used in Canada. If given the chance – none of the above might just win. And doesn’t that sum up much of the problem to begin with?

The New Federal Politics Journal

The brand new Federal Politics Journal has come to life just one day before Canadians find out if they head towards the polls for a federal election. How’s that for timing? Readers of the old site will notice the drastic changes, but don’t worry, the same people are still involved in the new site and it will continue to bring you Canadian political news coverage. The old aggregator format has been done away with as it was getting hard to maintain and it was eating up vast amounts of resources.

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