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My complaint to Elections Canada

By Stuart Hertzog
September 5th, 2009

Is the Green Party acting illegally in Saanich-Gulf Islands?

Commissioner of Canada Elections
c/o Elections Canada
257 Slater Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0M6
Telephone: (800) 463-6868
Fax: (800) 663-4908
Toll-free Fax: (888) 524-1444
E-mail: commissionersoffice@elections.ca

September 3rd, 2009

Dear Commissioner,

Complaint about the Green Party of Canada concerning the current Nomination Contest in Saanich-Gulf Islands

I am complaining about the actions of the Green Party of Canada in the current nomination contest for the candidacy of the Green Party in Saanich Gulf-Islands.

My complaint concerns two main issues:

  • A transfer of funds from the Green Party to a nomination candidate; and
  • Unequal access to EDA resources between the two candidates.

I believe that the Green Party may have acted and could still be acting illegally in these matters, and ask you to investigate my complaint without delay. I am basing this complaint on information I have received from EDA and my rival’s campaign manager, and from the published minutes of the Federal Council of the Green Party of Canada.

Transfer of funds to a Nomination Candidate

Two days ago I was confirmed by the Campaign Committee of the Green party of Canada as a nomination candidate in this EDA. The other nomination candidate confirmed at the same time is Elizabeth May, the Leader of the Green Party of Canada.

Previously, the Federal Council of the Green Party had decided that it would make getting the party’s leader elected as the main goal of its upcoming election campaign. It created a ‘Get Elizabeth May Elected’ fund and encouraged all Green Party EDAs to contribute up to $1,000 each, to be used solely for this purpose.

I understand that Federal Council also put $50,000 of the party’s money into this fund, and that another $12,000 was contributed by some party EDAs. Meanwhile, the party commissioned polling that pointed to Saanich-Gulf Islands as the riding with the highest ratio of voters who would consider voting ‘Green’ in the upcoming election.

The Council then persuaded Ms. May to run in this riding, to which she apparently has agreed. Council then transferred then $62,000 to the Saanich-Gulf Islands EDA into two accounts: one at the Sidney, BC branch of Coast Capital Savings Credit Union; the other at the Ganges, Saltspring Island branch of Island Savings Credit Union.

These funds were transferred to the EDA on two conditions:

  • That the EDA choose Elizabeth May as its candidate in the coming election, and
  • That her campaign manager Mr. John Fryer have complete control of these funds.

Once it became apparent that this would be a contested election, Ms. May submitted the required application to the party’s Campaign Committee to become a nomination candidate of this EDA. Thus as of September 1st, both Ms. May and I are nomination candidates, and have equal rights and obligations under the Elections Act.

However, once Ms. May became accepted as a nomination candidate, she still had at her disposal all of these funds to use in her nomination campaign. These funds are being used to rent a storefront office at #101–2417 Beacon Avenue in Sidney, buy office equipment and furniture, and whatever else her campaign manager, who has control on the use of the funds, requires for her to win the nomination contest.

I believe that this transfer of funds to her as a nomination candidate is illegal under section 404.3(1) of the Elections Act, as indicated on in paragraph 52, page 9 of Elections Canada’s Information Sheet 5, Transfers Between Affiliated Political entities.

Unequal access to Party and EDA resources

According to the party’s own rules, within 24 hours of receiving notice of authorisation by the party’s Campaign Committee, the EDA is supposed to supply a list of members to each nomination candidate. I have not received such a list at this time.

Moreover, the Elizabeth May campaign team has direct access to the party’s central CiviCRM database, which enables it to enter new members and correct member information as it is received. This software also allows the Elizabeth May campaign team to quickly and easily send out emails to EDA members, and receive ‘bounces.’

I have no such direct access at this time, and am severely handicapped by not being able to contact members. I submit that a service of the Party—access to the CiviCRM database—has not been offered equally to all nomination contestants.

An example of how this has handicapped my campaign was an email sent out to 1,100 Green Party members by the central office of the Green Party on August 13, 2009.

This email invited all Green Party members to meet Elizabeth May to persuade her to run in Saanich-Gulf Islands. Although I had already signaled my intention to stand as a nomination candidate, I was not invited to attend. In fact, I was not even sent this email. I went to the meeting after being informed of it by another member, and had to request to be allowed to speak. The time I was allowed was but a fraction of my opponent’s.

Finally, the resources of the EDA office are dedicated to the Elizabeth May campaign by virtue of being paid for by the Party from a fund dedicated to Ms. May’s election, and by being under the direct control of her Mr. John Fryer, her campaign manager, who also manages campaign volunteers brought in by the Party from other parts of the country.

I submit that in these and other ways, the resources of the Party and the EDA are not being equally available to myself at this time, and ask you to investigate my concerns.

Sincerely,
Stuart Hertzog

Nomination Candidate,
Saanich-Gulf Islands Green Party EDA


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