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Friday, June 26, 2015

Buying Democracy Update

Hooray! Hoorah!

I love Canada.

Also, the election date is now fixed so the writ period should now extend to cover a year leading up to that date. 

HarperPAC shuts down less than 1 week after launch

Conservative Party said group, which used prime minister's name, was 'misleading'

The Canadian Press Posted: Jun 26, 2015 12:22 AM ET Last Updated: Jun 26, 2015 1:33 PM ET
HarperPAC was created to counter pro-union organizations launched by former Liberal and NDP strategists, according to its founders. Late Thursday, it was shut down. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press) 

HarperPAC, a conservative third-party group, has shut down operations less than a week after its launch.
The group was formed by a team of Conservatives including several former political staffers. Its efforts included a radio ad that targeted Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. Its website was shut down late Thursday.
In a statement delivered on Twitter, spokesman Stephen Taylor said recent debate about the group brought the issue of third-party advertising out of the shadows.

Taylor said HarperPAC was formed to respond to left-leaning, union-funded organizations such as Engage Canada. That group was launched earlier this month by former NDP and Liberal strategists.

"We have contributed to a new discussion about political financing in a fixed election era that is critical to our democracy," he said.

Conservative Party spokesman Kory Teneycke said the party took issue with "the fact that they were using the prime minister's name to raise money and to run advertising," without input, control or association with the campaign.
"What we were concerned with in this particular case is to a reasonable person, it appeared to be us. It appeared to be the Conservative Party, it appeared to be the prime minister," he said in an interview wth CBC News.

'Misleading' approach

Teneycke said there was a lot of confusion from party members, given HarperPAC's name, that the group was part of the campaign. He said the best course of action for people who want to help the party is by making a donation on its website.

"This other approach is sort of misleading and that's why we wanted to put an end to the use of, really, our name and our brand."

He said there was no communication between the party and the group. 

Tom Flanagan, a retired University of Calgary political science professor, earlier said he was hopeful that HarperPAC would help to offset the pre-writ advertising efforts of its left-leaning counterparts.
"I think it is a matter of self-preservation for the Conservatives to be able to fight back," Flanagan said in a phone interview Wednesday.
The dissolution of HarperPAC, however, doesn't mean the third-party playing field is left without a conservative voice.
Working Canadians is a right-wing, anti-union organization created "to counter excessive union influence over government, our economy and our society." The group has already released two radio ads criticizing Trudeau.

No limits, no disclosure

Former chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley earlier said he feared Canada was going down a path similar to the U.S., where political action committees, or PACs, raise and spend untold amounts of money to influence political outcomes.
Taylor, a longtime Conservative and former director of the National Citizens Coalition, denied that the group was taking a page from the American political playbook. He said the acronym simply offers a useful recognition factor.
The federal New Democrats used HarperPAC as an excuse to launch a fundraising campaign of its own Wednesday, calling on supporters to pony up $5 donations before the end of June in order to gird the party for battle.
Third-party groups such as Engage Canada and HarperPAC can accept money in the pre-writ period without having to disclose dollar figures or where donations come from.
Taylor said HarperPAC will return all donations to contributors.
He did not respond to further CBC News requests for comment, saying he doesn't want to "develop the story further."
With files from CBC News