How did Mr. Brown miss that bus?

While everyone was complaining about robo calls and Conservative call centres, we were busy trying to make sense of the local Conservative’s election expenses. Of a legal limit of $96,630.18 that could be spend on his campaign in May 2011, Mr. Brown claims to have spent $95,328.54. Someone obviously kept a close eye on expenditures to cut it that close but it appears that a bus might have been forgotten.

And how the heck do you miss that bus? It belongs to a local company and was provided to Mr. Brown for the duration of the general election last year. It was hard to miss. It was plastered with signs for Mr. Brown. In fact, since there was no out of town need during the campaign, it was a daily eyesore here in Babel.

Mind you an eyesore is just in the mind of an observer. As the bus normally parked overnight at the company’s premises just a block from where we live, it was a regular reminder of the in-your-face nature of Mr. Brown’s campaign. Obviously, we are not impressed with Mr. Brown.

But this bus was a movable eyesore. We never saw it full of Conservative party faithful joyfully going for a picnic. Its principle use was to be parked at spots that it would be illegal for Mr. Brown’s supporters to erect a billboard. These parking places seemed to be prominent and busy intersections in Babel and at polling places when people were voting. Mr. Brown was, of course, advised by the local returning officer that having a portable billboard at a polling place is illegal and Mr. Brown’s supporters had the bus moved.

The Babel supporters of Mr. Brown must have been disappointed with the returning officer’s interference but it made sense. Almost anyone who had ever worked in a federal election campaign before could have told them that election signs at a polling place are a no-no. We are only allowed to act stupid so many times!

But the point of this diatribe is that some how, Mr. Brown’s accountants appear to have forgotten to include the bus in his expenses. Since the company that owns the bus is not included in contributions in kind, we have to assume there is a bill somewhere for that bus. No matter what value the campaign placed on the bus, there is no place in those figures to hide that large an expense. It could not be accounted for in the sign expenses.

Realistically, nobody can rent a bus and driver for less than a couple hundred dollars a day—and probably more. Assuming it cost just $200 a day, that would be an expenditure of over $6,000 to have it available for the entire campaign.

Maybe more Babel residents should ask Elections Canada what happened to the bus.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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