The Conservative Party was fined $52,000 for breaking election rules in a deal that saw charges dropped against four senior officials, but guilty pleas by the organizations for which they made the decisions.
Under a deal accepted by Judge Celynne Dorval in an Ottawa courtroom Thursday afternoon, the party and its fundraising arm, the Conservative Fund, pleaded guilty to Elections Act charges of incurring election expenses exceeding the maximum allowable and filing election records that didn’t set out all expenses.
More serious charges against the party and its fundraising arm of wilfully breaking the laws were withdrawn.
Charges against Senator Doug Finley, the party’s former campaign director, and Senator Irving Gerstein, head of the Conservative Fund and chief fundraiser for the party, were withdrawn, as well as charges against Michael Donison, the former national party director, and Susan Kehoe, who served as the party’s interim executive director.
The prosecutor told the judge the new charges were still serious and asked for the maximum penalty of a $50,000 fine to the party — $25,000 per charge — and $2,000 to the Fund, $1,000 per charge.
The judge agreed, saying the offences were “of a regulatory nature but significant to the democratic process,” and accepted a defence request for 30 days to pay.
The charges were laid under the Canada Elections Act in February relating to the so-called “in-and-out” campaign financing case stemming from the 2006 election. The charges were not criminal.
None of the four Conservative officials were in court Thursday; and were instead represented in the court by their lawyers.