Brad Trost seek­ing to take Tories to court

Simcoe Reformer - Times-Reformer - - NATIONAL NEWS - STEPHANIE LEVITZ

OT­TAWA — Failed Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship can­di­date Brad Trost is seek­ing an On­tario court’s opin­ion on whether his cam­paign ought to have been fined for leak­ing the party’s mem­ber­ship list.

Trost filed a re­quest for ju­di­cial re­view Tues­day, ask­ing a judge to com­pel the party to re­turn his cam­paign’s $50,000 fine, or — fail­ing that — to re­quire that the is­sue be re­viewed by an im­par­tial de­ci­sion maker.

The Con­ser­va­tive party’s lead­er­ship or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee levied the fine in June af­ter con­clud­ing Trost’s cam­paign was to blame for the mem­ber­ship list end­ing up in the hands of the Na­tional Firearms As­so­ci­a­tion, a breach of the rules.

Sev­eral party mem­bers com­plained about get­ting cor­re­spon­dence from the group once the lead­er­ship con­test was over, and in­sisted the list was the only way the NFA could have ob­tained their con­tact in­for­ma­tion.

Af­ter those con­cerns were made pub­lic, the party said a per­pe­tra­tor had been iden­ti­fied, and that dis­ci­plinary ac­tion would be taken.

That, al­leges Trost in the doc­u­ments filed Tues­day, is where the prob­lem be­gan, kick-start­ing a fun­da­men­tally bi­ased process that de­prived him of ba­sic pro­ce­dural fair­ness and tar­nished his rep­u­ta­tion.

The party’s state­ment on the is­sue was made be­fore Trost’s cam­paign was told they were be­ing in­ves­ti­gated, Trost notes in the doc­u­ments. The cam­paign re­sponded by say­ing they could find no source for the leak and de­manded proof of the al­le­ga­tions.

The party re­sponded with a let­ter ac­cus­ing Trost’s cam­paign of break­ing the rules by leak­ing the list, and said it would lose the $50,000 com­pli­ance de­posit it paid at the start of the race.

Both the fine and the pur­ported in­quiry “were a sham de­signed to jus­tify a de­ci­sion that had al­ready been reached by (party) of­fi­cials, namely to blame the Trost cam­paign for the leak,” Trost al­leges.

A spokesman for the party did not im­me­di­ately re­turn a call for com­ment Tues­day. Both sides, how­ever, were in ne­go­ti­a­tions all last week in a bid to stop the law­suit from pro­ceed­ing, but could not reach an agree­ment.

Trost’s cam­paign was blamed for the leak thanks to a prac­tice known as salt­ing, whereby each cam­paign is given mem­ber­ship lists with dif­fer­ent fake names, so that breaches in the party’s con­fi­den­tial­ity rules can be traced.

Trost’s cam­paign de­nied the al­le­ga­tions they were be­hind the leak from the start, and in the doc­u­ments, noted that of­fi­cials within the party also had ac­cess to the spe­cific list that was pro­vided to the Trost cam­paign.

“At best, the avail­able ev­i­dence per­mit­ted (the lead­er­ship or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee) to con­clude only that the leaked list was the Trost list,” says the court fil­ing.

“The ev­i­dence does not re­spon­si­bly per­mit a find­ing that Mr. Trost of his cam­paign was re­spon­si­ble for the leak.”

For that rea­son, the party had ev­ery mo­tive for find­ing some­where else to lay the blame, Trost al­leges.

“The ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor’s role in the party would mo­ti­vate him to shift re­spon­si­bil­ity for the em­bar­rass­ing leak onto one of the lead­er­ship can­di­dates and away from CPC of­fi­cials.”

Trost, a long time MP from Saskatchewan, fin­ished fourth in the lead­er­ship race, which de­clared An­drew Scheer the win­ner af­ter a 13-bal­lot bat­tle.

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