During the 2006 federal election, the Conservative Party of Canada transferred $1.3 million from the federal-campaign accounts to the accounts of 66 candidates.
The candidates returned all of the money to the party immediately. In return, the federal campaign issued each of the candidates a receipt, reportedly from an advertising agency, for a share of a television advertising campaign purchase. The federal campaign arranged for and purchased the ads but candidates' names were added to the end of the spots in different markets.
The local campaigns claimed the cost of the ad buys in their expenses filed with Elections Canada. If they earned more than 10 per cent of the vote in their riding, the candidates' are eligible for a 60 per cent taxpayer-funded rebate of expenses.
Elections Canada said the scheme contravened election-financing laws and refused to pay the rebate on the ad claims, about $800,000.
Elections Canada also said the $1.3 million claimed by regional campaigns was incurred by the federal party, which meant the federal party had overspent its advertising limits.
This happened in 2006, so why talk about it now?
The Conservatives sued Elections Canada and the Federal Court ruled in the party's favour. Elections Canada appealed and last week, the Federal Court of Appeal sided with Elections Canada. The Conservatives vow to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Just days before that court decision, Elections Canada charged four Conservatives who helped run the party's 2006 campaign with overspending the campaign's spending limits. The charges have not been proven in court.