Man­del’s late pa­per­work showed zero dona­tions

PressReader - BRUCE_CAROL_ROWE Channel - Man­del’s late pa­per­work showed zero dona­tions
There’s one sure way to lose an elec­tion — get your­self banned from run­ning in the elec­tion.That’s the strange fate of the Al­berta Party, af­ter its leader Stephen Man­del and five other can­di­dates were dis­qual­i­fied for fail­ing to file nom­i­na­tion fi­nan­cial re­ports on time.Noth­ing like this has hap­pened to any party leader be­fore. That’s be­cause the rules un­der which Man­del now finds him­self a non-can­di­date were only passed in 2016.That year, the NDP ex­tended stan­dards and penal­ties for gen­eral elec­tions to party nom­i­na­tions and lead­er­ship con­tests.Ob­vi­ously, the Al­berta Party was dimly at­tuned to a change that didn’t seem so im­por­tant un­til it jumped up and bit the leader.This is em­bar­rass­ing and dam­ag­ing for a small party try­ing to carve a niche for it­self in the con­ser­va­tive cen­tre.But the dra­co­nian pun­ish­ment is ab­surdly out of line with a mi­nor bu­reau­cratic lapse.Man­del was ac­claimed last year as the Al­berta Party can­di­date in Ed­mon­ton-Mc­Clung rid­ing. Be­cause there were no other can­di­dates, he didn’t cam­paign.Now get this: his fi­nan­cial state­ment shows that he re­ceived no dona­tions and spent no money.The of­fi­cial Elec­tions Al­berta form has 30 re­port­ing lines. Every sin­gle en­try is a zero.There is very lit­tle chance of funny busi­ness in a cam­paign that does not so­licit money, spend money, prom­ise money, or in­deed have money.For fil­ing this doc­u­ment a bit late, the guy who was a three­term Ed­mon­ton mayor is banned from Al­berta pol­i­tics for five years — and fined $500.The money-free doc­u­ment was re­ceived by the Chief Elec­toral Of­fi­cer last Sept. 27. Yet Man­del only learned Jan. 30 that he’s banned. The elec­tion could be called any day now.Given the facts, it’s easy to sus­pect sab­o­tage.But that’s not it. This is reg­u­la­tion run wild. Elec­tions Al­berta, al­ways scrupu­lous, is merely ap­ply­ing the rules it was given by the NDP.“I warned them when we were dis­cussing this in com­mit­tee,” says Greg Clark, Al­berta Party MLA for Cal­gary-El­bow, who has not been banned.“I said there would be un­in­tended con­se­quences to ap­ply­ing these rules to all party ac­tiv­ity. And now this.”“The NDP has been ob­sessed with this kind of leg­is­la­tion. I counted them up one day — they’ve passed seven bills on elec­tions and fi­nanc­ing.”Man­del, and pre­sum­ably some of the other Al­berta Party can­di­dates, will ap­ply to Court of Queen’s Bench for re­ver­sals.He ar­gues that the tim­ing of no­tices was con­fus­ing and he did in fact com­ply with the rules.I’d be shocked if any judge up­held a five-year ban on the leader of a le­git­i­mate party be­cause of this lapse.The penal­ties may even be a vi­o­la­tion of Man­del’s con­sti­tu­tional demo­cratic rights. Sec­tion 3 of the Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms guar­an­tees both the right to vote and to run for of­fice.UCP Leader Ja­son Kenney stood up for Man­del, say­ing he sup­ports his court ap­pli­ca­tion.Call­ing the penal­ties “dis­pro­por­tion­ate,” Kenney said the ban is “part of the NDP’s over­reach in seek­ing to mi­cro­man­age in­ter­nal party nom­i­na­tions through leg­is­la­tion.”Con­ser­va­tives of all stripes — Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive, Wil­drose, Al­berta Party and now UCP — have never liked gov­ern­ment med­dling in party af­fairs, which they con­sider pri­vate busi­ness. They say fi­nan­cial ac­count­abil­ity should only ap­ply to ac­tual elec­tions and by­elec­tions.Clark adds: “I do agree with fi­nan­cial re­port­ing for party lead­er­ship cam­paigns.” But he adds he finds it ridicu­lous to re­quire fi­nan­cials from every can­di­date for every party nom­i­na­tion, win­ners and losers alike.Christina Gray, the NDP min­is­ter be­hind the spate of bills, says the goal was to get “big money” out of pol­i­tics.In Man­del’s case, she has suc­ceeded bril­liantly in keep­ing zero money out of pol­i­tics.Gray of­fers lit­tle sym­pa­thy to any­one who misses the dead­lines. The rules are clear, she ar­gues.My own view is there should be some over­sight of fi­nanc­ing for party nom­i­na­tions. Gen­uine wrong­do­ing and fi­nan­cial trick­ery should be pun­ished.But for heaven’s sake, there’s a place for com­mon sense too.

Min­is­ter Re­spon­si­ble for Demo­cratic Re­newal Christina Gray says the thrust of fi­nan­cial re­port­ing leg­is­la­tion is to get big money out of pol­i­tics and she has no sym­pa­thy for any­one who misses a dead­line.

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