Con­ser­va­tives ask Bernier for proof he doesn’t have list of party mem­bers from lead­er­ship elec­tion

The Miracle - - front page - Source: Na­tional Post

The Con­ser­va­tive party’s lawyers are warn­ing Maxime Bernier not to ac­cess a party mem­ber­ship list he ob­tained dur­ing last year’s lead­er­ship vote, ac­cord­ing to a let­ter ob­tained by the Na­tional Post. The Que­bec MP said last week he was quit­ting cau­cus and form­ing a new po­lit­i­cal party, lit­tle more than a year af­ter he nar­rowly lost the Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship elec­tion to ri­val Andrew Scheer. Bernier made the an­nounce­ment in Ot­tawa on Thurs­day as Tories gath­ered in Hal­i­fax for a pol­icy con­ven­tion. “This let­ter was ul­ti­mately about safe­guard­ing the pri­vacy and per­sonal in­for­ma­tion of Cana­di­ans from unau­tho­rized ac­cess,” said a source fa­mil­iar with the rea­sons for send­ing the let­ter. “Peo­ple have sub­mit­ted their con­tact in­for­ma­tion to the Con­ser­va­tive party to re­ceive in­for­ma­tion from the Con­ser­va­tive party, and no one else.” Asked whether the party was wor­ried about Bernier at­tempt­ing to use the list to iden­tify de­fec­tors, the source said the let­ter was in­tended to safe­guard against “even the pos­si­bil­ity of this list be­ing used for a rea­son other than a Con­ser­va­tive party lead­er­ship can­di­date com­mu­ni­cat­ing to Con­ser­va­tive mem­bers.” Arthur Hamil­ton, a lawyer for the party, sent the let­ter by email and by overnight courier to Bernier’s con­stituency of­fice on Mon­day. Hamil­ton asked Bernier to im­me­di­ately con­firm “that you have nei­ther ac­cessed nor uti­lized any lists you or your des­ig­nate pos­sessed as at the point of your an­nounce­ment.” A source fa­mil­iar with Bernier’s op­er­a­tion said Tues­day that right af­ter the lead­er­ship cam­paign, con­tact in­for­ma­tion pro­vided on the of­fi­cial list was deleted from the database Bernier was us­ing to track po­ten­tial donors — and that a let­ter from Bernier’s lawyer con­tain­ing proof of that would be sent to the party this week. About 30,000 peo­ple are still in Bernier’s database, the source said, all of whom signed up for the “Mad Max Club” through his web­site. Af­ter choos­ing a name, writ­ing the party’s con­sti­tu­tion and get­ting set up with lawyers and Elec­tions Canada, Bernier could make an an­nounce­ment with fur­ther de­tails by the third or fourth week of Septem­ber. Bernier had long ago com­mit­ted to get­ting rid of the list at the end of the lead­er­ship race. To en­ter the con­test in April 2016, he signed a dec­la­ra­tion agree­ing to only use mem­ber­ship in­for­ma­tion “for the pur­pose of cam­paign­ing for the lead­er­ship elec­tion and not for any other pur­pose.” But he has al­ready vi­o­lated the dec­la­ra­tion. Bernier agreed then that he would take no steps to “op­pose the elected leader in any way,” and signed off on a sen­tence say­ing he wouldn’t run against the Con­ser­va­tives in 2019: “I will not seek the nom­i­na­tion of an­other po­lit­i­cal party, or run as an in­de­pen­dent can­di­date, and will not en­dorse, cam­paign for or pub­licly sup­port any op­pos­ing can­di­date or po­lit­i­cal party, in the next fed­eral elec­tion.” Quit­ting cau­cus, call­ing the party “morally and in­tel­lec­tu­ally cor­rupt” and an­nounc­ing he would start his own party last Thurs­day clearly con­tra­vene that agree­ment. It’s un­clear, how­ever, whether the party could, or would even con­sider, tak­ing ac­tion to pun­ish Bernier. Com­pli­ance de­posits of $50,000 had been re­tained for the pur­poses of the lead­er­ship elec­tion, but they have since been re­turned to the can­di­dates, party spokesman Cory Hann said.

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