Monday, November 06, 2006

Necessary implications

Others have already noted the Cons' attempt to get citizen-funded constituency staff to participate in the ongoing byelections. But let's take a look at the implications if Doug Finley's attempted defence is actually believed:
One of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's most senior political operatives is urging taxpayer-funded staff in the Parliament Hill offices of Conservative MPs to get involved in two federal byelection campaigns....

In the memo, Finley encourages MPs to get involved in the byelections slated for Nov. 27 in the Ontario riding of London-North-Centre and the Quebec constituency of Repentigny by penning letters of endorsement for the local Conservative candidates.

Finley then goes on to tell MPs to "encourage your Hill staff to participate in persuasion calling, which will be co-ordinated by the party's political operations team."...

Finley defended the memo Sunday as "a simple call for volunteers" to help in the byelections.

"There was no need for reminders re Treasury rules," he said in an e-mail to The Canadian Press. "This was addressed to people who already know the rules for staff."
Let's assume for a moment that Finley is right in claiming:
- that constituency staff are well aware of the rules regarding the use of citizen-funded offices and time, and
- that there's no need to include in a message any matters which should be familiar to the recipient.

If one accepts these assumptions as true, then the inescapable conclusion is that in Finley's view, Con MPs are utterly clueless about the existence of the by-elections, and/or the familiar ways in which an MP or any individual can get involved. After all, if the MPs "already knew" what was going on and how to participate, then by Finley's own standard there would have been no need to send out the memo in the first place.

Needless to say, such an explanation almost completely defies belief - even after making necessary allowances for the Cons' well-established policy of demanding neither intelligence nor political knowledge on the part of their candidates. But whether or not Finley's defence is the least bit believable, his memo can only be taken as highlighting corruption and/or stupidity in the Con ranks. And no number of MP endorsements or "persuasion calls" should be able to override that deadly combination on the part of the Con government.

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