There has been a lot of media lately (most of it Liberal-generated) about accusations of a cheque-swapping scheme for delegate fees at the 2005 Conservative Party of Canada Convention in Montreal.
This story in the Hill Times pretty well sums it up.
What the story doesn't sum up, though, is that the accusations are ridiculous.
First off, I attended this convention as a delegate from the riding of Fort McMurray-Athabasca. During the discussions of our riding association leading up to the convention, at no time was a cheque-swapping scheme discussed or even offered. Rather, our association voted to pay for the costs of our delegates to travel to Montreal. No cheque-swapping. Period.
What this amounts to is a Liberal Party that is still pretty sore over the idea that we are going to limit individual contributions to a political party to $1000 a year.
For our party (and likely the NDP, BQ, and Greens as well), this is perfectly manageable because we rely mainly on a great number of smaller donations.
The Liberals, on the other hand, do not have this same appeal to the average Canadian with an average income... thus they rely on a smaller number of donations from wealthier individuals who can afford to give more (and, in Joe Volpe's case, their children).
The Liberals are under a false impression that this limit will put them in trouble because they are charging $995 for delegates to attend their convention this winter. They are under the impression that delegate fees in their entirety constitute a donation, and thus will leave only a $5 gap for anyone attending convention.
As has been labouriously explained by CPC folks, their interpretation is incorrect.
Unfortunately, a Liberal-friendly Elections Canada is helping this matter drag itself out.
I look forward to this situation finally being resolved, and for the financing of political parties to be brought more in line with the average Canadian (much to the chagrin of the Liberals).
I then look forward to the "retirement" of Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Canada's Chief Electoral Officer.