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March 09 2017


A Strange, Perplexing Electoral Dispute in Quebec Meets a Fitting End

While there have been moves to loosen various restrictions, donations to political groups in Canada remain fairly tightly controlled. In particular, any political organization that wishes to collect donations from others must abide by a number of fairly detailed rules, with a set of them typically applying at each of the national and provincial levels. As might be taken to befit the province's political character in general, Quebec maintains what likely ranks as the most detailed and rigorous collection of such rules. While plenty of political fundraising goes on in Quebec, parties that engage in the practice are required to report their activities and results on a regular basis and in depth.

Allen Baler

In most cases, this will require making use of the services of an independent accounting firm. Many have engaged well-known international-scale consultant Ernst & Young for this purpose over the years and done so with little drama or trouble. That remained the case until a 2015 incident in which the director of Quebec's election commission suddenly leveled charges that Ernst & Young had been negligent in the reporting duties assumed on behalf of as many as nine different political organizations.

The nature of the complaints that led to these accusations was never made entirely clear, with the authorities seeming to prefer, instead, to work behind the scenes to build a case. While one individual who was named in the accusations did eventually pay a small fine, though, all the charges that had been leveled against the other major target were recently dropped. Saying that the Ernest & Young former executive had, in fact, lived up to all of his legal and professional duties, the authorities finally let Sylvain Vincent off the hook with what actually sounded to some who read the article that first covered the matter like an apology.

That was probably welcome news to Sylvain Vincent and others, and it certainly made more sense of the situation to the many who had previously found it perplexing. From the very beginning, Vincent and others named in the original charges had been forthright about how they had previously sought to establish whether the company's standards would comply with all the relevant provincial regulations. Given the volume and specificity of the responses received from the very agency that would later level charges, seemingly out of the blue, the entire affair quickly took on an air of strangeness in the eyes of many. With the issue finally resolved for good, those involved can at least rest easy, even if the real reasons for the abortive imbroglio have still not become clear. 
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