Fact-checking the new NDP attack ad on Conservative ethics
On Monday, the NDP released an attack ad targeting the Conservatives’ record of electoral offences.
The faces of one federal Conservative after another are shown set to dramatic music. One by one, a red stamp announces a word, like, “Charged”, “Sent to jail” or “Fraud.”
The problem is, many of the people mentioned in the ad have not actually been convicted of any crime, something that the ad does not make especially clear.
Here’s a look at the people mentioned in the ad:
Irving Gerstein – Head of Conservative Fundraising
This is true, Senator Irving Gerstein was charged in relation to the “in-and-out” scheme, in which the Conservative Party broke election spending rules in the 2006 election.
What the NDP ad doesn’t say is that the charges against Gerstein were withdrawn.
Conservative Party of Canada
Guilty of election fraud
The deal which saw the charges against Gerstein being dropped also saw the Conservative Party fined $52,000 for breaking the Election Act. So, this is accurate.
Patrick Brazeau – Harper Senator
Brazeau has been charged with breach of trust and fraud, but he hasn’t been found guilty. His trial is currently set for March 2016.
Bruce Carson – Former Harper Advisor
Carson has been charged with illegal lobbying, but he hasn’t been found guilty.
Michael Sona – Conservative Robocall Operative
Sent to jail
Sona was indeed sent to jail, convicted of preventing or endeavouring to prevent an elector from voting in connection with the Guelph robocalls scandal in the 2011 election. He was sentenced to nine months in prison, and 12 months of probation, though according to an April 2015 news report, he only spent a few days in prison before being released on bail. He intends to appeal the sentence, though not the conviction.
Peter Penashue – Campaign Agent
Reg Bowers, official agent for former Conservative MP Peter Penashue, was charged with taking illegal contributions from corporations during the 2011 election. Penashue resigned over the case and was defeated in a 2013 byelection. Bowers has been charged, but not convicted. He made a first appearance in court in June and is due back in early August.
Saulie Zajdel – Harper Candidate
Zajdel pleaded guilty to charges of breach of trust and corruption in May 2015. The charges related to real estate deals made while he was a Montreal city councillor.
Although it’s true that Zajdel once ran unsuccessfully for the Conservatives, these charges are about things that happened while he was a councillor – not a Conservative candidate.
Mike Duffy – Harper Senator
Mike Duffy is currently on trial on 31 charges, including fraud, bribery and breach of trust. The trial is scheduled to resume in August. Many of the issues do relate to his housing funds.
Pamela Wallin – Harper Senator
Pamela Wallin is currently being investigated by the RCMP with regard to her travel expenses, though no charges have been laid.
One third of the Senate
A Toronto Star report from June suggests that the RCMP is investigating 30 senators who have been flagged for questionable spending.
As there are currently 105 sitting senators, the NDP is rounding up a little here, particularly since some of those whose spending is being investigated are no longer sitting. Correction: there are only 83 sitting senators at the moment. So, 30 of 83 is actually slightly more than one third of the Senate, though it is still true that some of those under investigation are not currently sitting. Apologies for the error, and thanks to readers for fact-checking the fact-check.
It’s unclear whether one of the senators in the graphic, Don Meredith, is actually being investigated by the RCMP, though the Senate ethics officer is looking into allegations that he was having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old-girl, according to a news report.
Dean Del Mastro – Harper ethics spokesperson
Sent to jail
This is true. Del Mastro was sentenced on June 25 for electoral fraud. He was sentenced to one month in jail. He spent one night there, before being released on bail pending an appeal of his conviction.