Date: June 2, 2008
Conservatives Misleading Canadians on Leadership Debts
The Conservative Party website mistakenly claims that “June 3rd is the Elections Canada deadline for candidates from the 2006 Liberal leadership race to have paid off their loans and outstanding debts. Otherwise, they will run afoul of Canada’s election laws.”
The website goes further, asking if Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion will “seek an arbitrary extension from Elections Canada?”
Given the trouble the Conservative Party seems to be having with election financing rules, as illustrated by the alleged “in-and-out” scheme, it is understandable that they would be confused by the leadership campaign filing requirements.
In fact, the rules are clearly spelled out in the Canada Elections Act in Section 435.29. A number of people are under the impression that June 3 is a debt repayment deadline. In fact, the Elections Act allows candidates to honour binding agreements to pay beyond the 18-month period. The June 3 deadline is not a “repayment” deadline at all, it’s a date set to report.
Our former leadership contestants continue to work hard to retire their debt, and they will fully comply with the statutory requirements of the Canada Elections Act. The new numbers are expected to be posted on the Elections Canada website in the next few weeks.
With regard to the Leader’s debt, other factors are at play. As leader, Mr. Dion has put the Party’s interest ahead of his own. Raising money for his campaign has been secondary to ensuring the long-term financial stability of the Liberal Party. Nonetheless, he is also working hard to retire the debt and has shown significant progress.
Finally, it is important to note that the various leadership campaigns had raised roughly $12 million as of June 2008. They raised that much in addition to what the Party was raising at the same time. And they did that under the strictest fundraising rules that our system has ever seen. That is a sign of strength.
For more information, please contact:
Liberal Party of Canada Press Office