Is it possible the Conservative Party didn't think this through?
Enlisting a Conservative senator caught up in the current Senate scandal to stand on stage at the close of convention to deliver a report about party fundraising?
The Senate scandal dogging the Conservative government has blown wide open one of the upper chamber’s dirty little secrets: it houses plenty of party organisers and fundraisers appointed by Conservatives and Liberals over the years who wear two hats while collecting a pay cheque from the public.
That brings us to Senator Irving Gerstein. He was appointed to the Senate by Stephen Harper back on December 22, 2008, alongside Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau.
Gerstein also just happens to be a longtime fundraiser for the Conservative Party and chair of the Conservative Fund. That’s what brought him to the stage near the end of the convention - to give an update to delegates about the party's fundraising fortunes.
But back to the party's troubles.
Court documents released in July say that as head of the Conservative Fund, Gerstein knew Nigel Wright, Harper's former chief of staff, cut a cheque to Duffy to repay disputed expense claims. The documents also allege the party had initially planned to repay Duffy’s expenses from its taxpayer-subsidized war chest, headed by Gerstein. (In his speech on Saturday, Gerstein said he told Wright that no party dollars were to go to pay Duffy's disputed claims - and that none ever were.)
This isn’t the first time Gerstein has been dragged into party problems. Remember the “in and out scandal” – when the RCMP raided the Conservative Party offices in 2008?
In the end, the Conservative Party was fined $52,000 for breaking election rules. The party and the Conservative Fund pleaded guilty to Elections Act charges for exceeding the maximum allowable spending and filing incomplete election records.
The deal meant charges against four senior officials – hello again, Senator Gerstein! – were dropped. The presiding judge said the offences were "of a regulatory nature but significant to the democratic process."
With Gerstein on stage at the close the Conservative Party convention, who said irony is dead?