Heard It Through the Grapevine

A week after Argyle PC MLA Chris d’Entremont went on the attack, saying Stephen McNeil must come clean about the tainted Liberal trust fund money, we were sent a useful timeline from a reader.

On the subject of the Nova Scotia Liberal’s toll-gating money, an alert NDP supporter gave us this note Party President David Wallbridge had sent to the business news outlet All Nova Scotia:

This is a political question dealing with the leadership of Stephen McNeil and his claim that the NS Liberal Party has put the tainted trust funds in the past.

According to John Gillis, president of the NS Liberal Party, the Liberals lawfully transferred $366,308 from the tainted trust fund to their unrestricted fund in September 2009.

In October 2009, Mr. McNeil told reporters that he and his Caucus would support the NDP bill to completely restrict access to the tainted trust fund and that “this issue needs to be behind us.”

However, the $365,308 from the tainted trust fund remained on the accounts of the NS Liberal Party.

According to the latest 2012 financial statement, the $365,308 constitutes more than 50% of the total assets of the NS Liberal Party and that they were required to draw down on those funds to pay for an operational deficit in 2012.

Spending on TV ads and polling contributed to that deficit.

Following the NS Liberal Party 2013 AGM, the media reported that Party officials stated that the assets of the Party are available if an election is called.

That includes the $365,308 from the tainted trust fund. 

The tainted trust fund money has not been put behind the NS Liberal Party. It sits in their bank account and they appear intent to use it during the next election.

stephen-mcneilFor those unfamiliar with the scandalous history of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party’s finances, this column by award-winning journalist Stephen Kimber gives a good recap:

“Tollgating” was business as usual in Nova Scotia politics. If you owned a distillery and wanted the liquor commission to stock your brand, you had to pay a fee to your friendly party bagman for every case sold. If you were a butcher and wanted your local hospital’s cafeteria to buy its meat from you, you knew who to see — and it wasn’t the hospital purchasing department… In just those eight Liberal years, however, the Mounties identified more than $4 million of illegal fundraising.

As we mentioned last week, we welcome any Liberal MLA to email us a rebuttal to d’Entremont’s comments.