Yesterday, ITQ posted the new guidelines for potential Conservative candidates, which have become considerably more onerous since the last election.
In what a cynical observer might suggest is an attempt to tighten any potential future legal challenge to the party’s now notorious in-and-out scheme – which it maintains is entirely legitimate under existing election law – Tory hopefuls are now required to agree, in advance, to any “reasonable financial arrangement” with the party to provide “campaign services” before they will even be permitted to run for the nomination. They also aren’t allowed to talk about it before, during or after the fact, since they also have to sign a non-disclosure agreement that covers the entire candidate selection process.
In the subsequent comment thread, a reader asked if we were planning to do the same thing for the other parties, which had already struck ITQ as an excellent idea for a follow-up post.
After all, one of the most commonly-heard Conservative talking points in response to the in-and-out controversy is that other parties do it too – so why not check to see if those other parties also want potential candidates to agree to future financial arrangements with the national party?
Short answer: No, they don’t, as it turns out.
Here’s a summary of what we’ve been able to find out so far:
The Liberal Party makes potential candidates fill out a lengthy personal information form, which includes the usual questions about background – criminal record, bankruptcies, ongoing legal action, employment and education history.
- The questionnaire asks whether the applicant has ever been “the subject of any legal proceeding, inquiry or investigation instituted or undertaken by an agency of government or by a regulatory body in Canada or elsewhere” – no Gomery alumni need apply? It doesn’t say whether this is a deal-breaker.
- Applicants must also disclose whether they are a “a party, witness or otherwise, in any litigation before a court of law or tribunal of competent jurisdiction, which, if publicized before or during an election campaign, could adversely affect your campaign or the campaign of the Liberal Party of Canada or cause embarrassment to the Party of [sic] its Leader?” It doesn’t give examples, however; apparently, the potential for “embarrassment” is left up to the putative nominee to determine.
- If any potentially controversial candidates do manage to slip through the foregoing, however, there is an open-ended “full disclosure” question as well, which presumably would give the party a legal out to turf a candidate at any point in the electoral process: “Are you aware of any other material fact not otherwise disclosed in this Form that, if publicly known, could cause your electoral chances or the electoral chances of the Liberal Party of Canada to be materially worsened, could hinder the performance of your public duties as a Member of Parliament or could be used by your opponents against you or the Liberal Party of Canada?”
- Finally, unlike the Conservative Party, candidates are not required to sign a non-disclosure agreement on the nomination process, and there is no provision compelling them to agree, in advance, to any “reasonable” financial arrangement with the party.
The New Democratic Party has not put its nomination forms online as yet, but a source within the party told us that there are no provisions for a non-disclosure agreement, or future financial arrangements with the party for campaign services.
- Potential candidates agree that, if the campaign gets over 10% of the vote and qualifies for the 60% rebate, that money will be sent to the national party, which will take a percentage – it’s not clear how much, although last time, it was up to 60%, depending on the riding – before sending the remaining portion back to the candidate, who usually donates it back to the riding association.
In order to run for the Greens, a candidate hopeful has to complete a (much shorter) form that covers much the same ground – although considerably less of it – as the Liberals, as far as criminal charges, bankruptcy, as well as involvement in any “ongoing legal proceeding” – whether or not it might embarrass the party if disclosed during a campaign.
- Along with the application, potential candidates must also submit a 200-300 word biography, and a colour photo.
Still to come:
- The Bloc Quebecois
Finally, in response to The Jurist, who pointed out that it would be interesting to see the contracts that the candidates have to sign in order to qualify for the Conservative nomination process: We sent an email to Ryan Sparrow asking him to send along the relevant forms – Schedules B and G, according to the guidelines. His reply: “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you”. (At least he’s sorry. Progress!)
UPDATE: An ITQ reader with federal campaign experience tells us that, once confirmed, Liberal candidates sign a financial agreement with the party that has a similar provision to that of the NDP, as far as donating a portion of any rebate from Elections Canada back to the party.
Looking for more?
Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.