Campaign debts

A number of candidates have some big debts after the campaign. Not municipal ones; we don’t know anything about those and we don’t think anyone cares, we are talking about Federal leadership candidates.

Scott Brison for example still owes over $150,000 and Stephane Dion still has $627,000 plus outstanding.

Based on the final reports filed with Elections Canada in June 2008, only two leadership candidates from 2006, Liberal MPs Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Ont.) and Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul’s, Ont.), have paid off their debts, and the others have received extensions to do so from the Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand.

The Canada Elections Act requires that leadership campaign debts must be paid back within 18 months or if that’s impossible leadership contestants can request an extension from the chief electoral officer of Canada. Mr. Mayrand can grant an unlimited number of extensions to the leadership contestants who fail to pay their debts within the required time frame. The leadership contenders cannot use their own money to repay their debts. The required 18-month period expired in June. [link to source]

One wonders what the point of a time frame is if unlimited extensions can be granted. And apparently being in a financial hole does not prevent anyone from running again.

“Nothing in the [Canada Elections] Act prevents a leadership contestant of a completed contest to run as a contestant in a new leadership contest,” said John Enright, a spokesman for Elections Canada in an interview last week with The Hill Times.

The party doesn’t seem to mind either although they may set some rules for this upcoming leadership run:

The constitution of the federal Liberal Party does not proscribe any individual from entering a leadership race before clearing debts from a previous leadership contest.

Daniel Lauzon, deputy director of communications for the Liberal Party, told The Hill Times last week that the national executive of the Liberal Party is meeting in Ottawa on Nov. 8 to come up with rules for the next leadership campaign and the issue of former leadership contestants will also be discussed.

Now that McKenna has definitely said his hat will not be in the ring it will be interesting who the Liberals can come up with but whoever runs [and the Liberal Party as a whole] will have to have a war chest. No matter what, we hope they don’t follow the example of this fellow in his method of raising funds.

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