This was supposed to be a quiet day in the campaign. After all, most of the leaders are hiding away preparing for the first of the debates. Suddenly, Canadian Press releases a draft of an Auditor General’s audit on the G8/G20 meetings. This draft version (please note that there is more than one of these floating around) states that $50 million were spent on projects in Tony Clement’s riding, quite a distance from the conference and that the government mislead parliament. The report suggested that such methods used to obtain the funds were illegal.
Needless to say, this caused a wee bit of excitement on the campaign and certainly raised the stakes in the coffee break discussions this morning. Basic take on it from everyone I talked to was that, if true, this should result in the complete devastation of the Conservative Party in the polls.
Later in the day, word of a supposedly later draft emerged…. reputedly also from the Auditor General’s office regarding the same audit. This was referred to by John Baird who said that the language referring to misleading parliament had been removed. He also did state that he could not release the complete language of the draft in question.
However, the CBC’s Greg Weston has stated that he has talked with someone who has seen all the drafts and the language has few changes from the first released draft. Apparently, it’s quite damning. That being said, we should all remember that we are talking about drafts whose actual origin hasn’t really been confirmed. This is important because the final report has been written and is the hands of the Prime Minister.
There was call last week from the opposition parties to release the final document. The Prime Minister refused to do so. Here’s the rub. Now, when the conservatives may well want to release this, comes the reminder that they can’t. The AG’s report can only be released to parliament and parliament won’t sit, of course, until after the election. Releasing it beforehand has a name: contempt of parliament. This should lead to a marvelous litany of, “It said this” and, “No, it didn’t” There should be a substantial amount of outrage to go with this.
On top of this, the Auditor General makes the news again this afternoon. On the last day of parliament sitting, The Conservative Party submitting a dissenting report on the G8/G20 meeting funding stating that the AG had supported the expenditures in question. However, it appears that the quote in question related to a March 2004 report on security funding after 9/11. Ms. Fraser sent a scathing request to have the quote removed from the report. The Conservative Party did admit that there was a error and it would be investigated; however, Stockwell Day, who is not running in the next election, was the one representing the party on this.
So, expect the words “Auditor General” to play a big part in tomorrow’s debates. Just a head’s up.