I'm going to assume that BigCityLIb has it right and that the reason for this bit of political theatre was to draw attention away from stories like this one. Well, that and I'm sure the Conservatives are hoping that by turning the committee hearings into a media circus they can detract from the legitimacy of the proceedings if it's determined that the Conservatives cheated in the last election. And in simple terms, that's what this is about: did the Conservatives cheat?
So let's look at that last link and see what Doug Finley might want us to ignore.
In a hearing about Conservative election spending, an unsuccessful candidate testified Monday that he agreed in advance not to spend $37,000 the party sent to his campaign in 2006 and quickly took back.The candidate's name is Gary Caldwell. Hands up anyone who thinks that Mr. Caldwell spontaneously volunteered "in advance" to sit passively by and watch money be contributed to his campaign only to be taken back again without being asked. Anybody? Right. It seems obvious that someone asked Mr. Caldwell for that agreement because the intent was there to play games with the books. And apparently Mr. Caldwell detected a faint odour about the entire affair.
Gary Caldwell, who ran for the Tories in the Quebec riding of Compton-Stanstead, said he later redrafted his election spending report to withdraw a claim for a 60 per cent federal rebate on that amount.
"I realize that the central party, any party, can give money to the local riding association, but when we examined this further I became convinced that it was only a legitimate local expense if we in fact spent it," he told the Commons ethics committee. " In fact, that was not the case."
Caldwell said he left the Tories "after what happened and my concern that the Conservative Party was no longer interested in rehabilitating parliamentary institutions." He plans to run next as a Green Party candidate.
It's interesting that the unsuccessful candidate who later quit the party was the one who was honest enough not to claim the rebate while successful candidates, including cabinet ministers, applied for it.
But the short history of this Conservative party provides quite a few indications that there is really little respect for rules, for democracy or for the institutions of government. It appears today's Conservatives will game the system in any way they can think of to get political advantage and then they'll do it again when it looks like they've been caught and might be held accountable.