International News Desk – At Home: Harper’s Conservatives accused of mishandling campaign funds – In Foreign News: Final South Korean hostages released in Afghanistan

International News Desk – At Home: Harper’s Conservatives accused of mishandling campaign funds – In Foreign News: Final South Korean hostages released in Afghanistan

At Home: Harper’s Conservatives accused of mishandling $11 million in campaign funds

Liberal leader Stéphane Dion has announced his anger at the Conservatives during his caucus meeting this Wednesday, calling for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to ?open the books? (1) and let Elections Canada watchdogs see exactly where his party’s campaign money went.

The accusation came following the employment of William Corbett by Elections Canada to look more closely at the expenditures of the Conservatives during the last federal election.

CBC News Today said that there had been $11 million ?shuffled from Tory ridings to the central campaign? (2). The party members are under suspicion of using advertising funds to support the national campaign or to pay for TV and radio ads for the advancement of the federal party.

There is no mention of the financial investigation on the Conservative’s website, which is surprising considering how heavy the site is with denunciations of Stéphane Dion, Jack Layton, and Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

The party has spent a great deal of time and effort on making negative statements about its competition: ?Layton’s Priorities Keep Changing?; ?Stéphane Dion: All Negative, All the Time?; ?More Conspiracy Theories from the Red-Green Coalition? (3).

Given this aggressive attitude, It’s odd that no Conservative spokesman has stepped up to defend the party and effectively call someone crazy.

In response to questions about the Liberal party’s own track record, particularly the sponsorship scandal, Dion told reporters that ?There was a break of trust. We need to recreate that link of trust, and I believe it’s strengthening again towards our party? (1).

Harper has yet to retaliate or explain his party’s position; however, given his outspokenness on the previous Liberal financial debacle it is to be expected that the Liberals and the other parties will not hesitate to denounce Conservative election spending and call, once again, for a vote of non-confidence in the minority government.

(1), 2007. ?Harper has broken trust of Canadians, says Dion.? Retrieved August 29, 2007, from

(2) CBC News Today (television program). Originally aired August 29, 2007.

(3) Conservative Party of Canada website. Retrieved August 31, 2007, from

In Foreign News: Final 7 South Korean hostages released in Afghanistan

CBC News has reported that the final seven South Korean hostages being held in Afghanistan have been released. The hostages were released in two groups and handed over to the care of officials with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The hostages had been held for more than 40 days in an attempt by the Taliban, a militant Afghan group, to pressure South Korea into removing its peacekeeping troops from Afghanistan and to prevent any more Korean aid workers from entering the country.

The newly released hostages were part of a group of 23 South Korean Christian aid workers who were kidnapped by Taliban militants on July 19.

Two of the original hostages were shot dead; in mid-August, two of the women were released, and another 12 of the hostages were freed on August 29. According to, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Afghanistan has stated that the hostages have not been harmed; however, they were sent to a medical facility within the country to ensure their health before being sent home (2).

The South Koreans entered Afghanistan with the intention of providing medical services to the war-ravaged country; they were subsequently captured with the intention of the Taliban to demand the release of an equal number of Taliban prisoners from Afghani jails.

South Korea’s decision to negotiate directly with the Taliban has raised concerns that the militant group will now be seen as possessing enough legitimacy to deal directly with foreign governments.

As if to confirm those fears, a Taliban spokesman confirmed that they are already planning to kidnap more foreigners, since the rebel group gained so much in their negotiations with South Korea.

“We will do the same thing with the other allies in Afghanistan, because we found this way to be successful,” (1) spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi told the Associated Press.

While it is clear that South Korea will have no role in Afghanistan in the near future, other nations, including Canada, remain within the country in an attempt to keep peace between Afghanistan and the militant Taliban.

(1) CBC News, 2007. ?Last 7 South Korean hostages released.? Retrieved August 31, 2007, from

(2), 2007. ?12 Korean hostages freed in Afghanistan, 7 in captivity.? Retrieved August 29th, 2007, from