Monday, April 21, 2008

Harper Party in a Nutshell: “materially false and misleading statements”

Disclosure of information concerning the Elections Canada/RCMP “visit” to Conservative Party headquarters last week (gory details here) confirmed what everyone already suspected about the “creative accounting” scheme allegedly designed to mislead Elections Canada, exceed spending caps during the last election and defraud taxpayers of several hundred thousand dollars. What’s vastly more amusing at this stage however, was the bungled attempt at “spin control” by Conservative officials yesterday that will certainly do nothing to endear these chuckleheads to the mainstream press for which they have so much visceral antipathy.

Via The Globe & Mail:

In releasing the abridged version of the documents to select media, the party hoped to give Mr. Sparrow, campaign organizer Doug Finley and party lawyer Paul Lepsoe a chance to explain the Tory point of view.

In the end, the plan went horribly awry.

On Saturday night, Mr. Sparrow called a number of reporters to ask them to come to meetings that had been scheduled for yesterday at the Lord Elgin Hotel in downtown Ottawa saying it “would be worth their while.”

But media outlets who were not among those invited got wind of the meetings yesterday morning and began to ask what was going on. When one reporter asked in an e-mail about the news conference, Mr. Sparrow replied: “No conference, not sure where you got that from.”

The reporter then flipped Mr. Sparrow back an e-mail in which he had told another reporter who was on the list that the briefing would be at “4:30 Lord Elgin, Boardroom 800. Embargo until 7:30 pm Sunday night.” To which Mr. Sparrow replied: “I meet with journalists privately all the time.”

Shortly after, the Liberals found out about the briefings and advised all of the Ottawa press gallery, some of whom were quite miffed to find they had been excluded. When they threatened to show up at the Lord Elgin, despite the lack of an invitation, the meeting was secretly moved to the Sheraton.

The first briefing for select television outlets took place but, by then, the excluded reporters found out the new location and began to stake out the hotel. That led the Tories to cancel all subsequent briefings, including the one they had planned with The Globe. And Mr. Sparrow, Mr. Finley and Mr. Lepsoe fled from the Sheraton down a back set of stairs.

“Theme & Scheme” Update: If you ever questioned whether “Teh Blogging Tories” and Stephen Taylor in particular were unpaid shills for the Conservative Party of Canada, the ferocious spin surrounding the “In-n-Outgate” should quick dispel any doubts.