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LETTER: Response to Elections Canada ruling on Kelowna-Lake Country signs

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May 14, 2018 - 10:52 AM

 


OPINION


The 2015 cooperation between Greens and Liberals in Kelowna-Lake Country was grassroots democracy at its finest. 

Since it was a first in Canadian politics, it isn’t surprising that the Elections Act contained no language specifically applying to it. My position, expressed in the compliance agreement and based on a legal analysis I received, is that there was no contravention of the Act in our case. The Commissioner disagrees, but was unable to support his position with a legal analysis. I refused to sign a compliance agreement containing an admission that a contravention had occurred.

READ MORE: Green party signs helping Liberals in B.C. led to violation: elections watchdog

The Kelowna Green Party electoral association nominated Gary Adams on a transparent platform of cooperation as the best way to support Green principles, and the resulting campaign is one we are proud of. Based on consultations with Elections Canada at the time, it was understood that we would not contravene the Act by waving some Green signs alongside Liberal signs at the roadside.

More recently, Elections Canada has had misgivings. In particular, they are concerned about an unscrupulous party possibly subverting our idea so as to evade campaign spending limits. (This has happened before: the Conservative Party of Canada pleaded guilty to evading spending limits in connection with the in-and-out scandal, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.) It was this concern, and not the couple of hundred dollars’ worth of signs we used at Liberal events, which led the Commissioner to seek a formal compliance agreement. It is also why I agreed to sign it, and to caution against using signs in this way until legislation catches up.

I support Elections Canada’s aim to maintain equitable spending limits, and I also wish to defend the democratic right to engage in transparent political cooperation. I have requested that Elections Canada clarify on their website how future cooperative efforts may proceed.

The media attention to this took me by surprise, as the compliance agreement is, in itself, utterly uninteresting. Unfortunately the Conservative Party of Canada has chosen to twist this non-offense into an opportunity to smear a sitting MP, with little regard for truth and accuracy. For example, they have conveniently ignored the fact that Elections Canada found no reason to seek a compliance agreement with MP Fuhr. The agreement is with myself alone.

— Dan Ryder, Kelowna


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