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Two letters to Elections Canada

By Stuart Hertzog
September 13th, 2009

The Green Party counters my complaint, and my response

note: Although I sent my complaint to Elections Canada at 10:09PM on September 3, 2009, the only acknowledgement I received was an automated email message on minute later saying my email had been received. I sent my complaint by email to the address indicated on Elections Canada‘s web site as the correct one to use to register a complaint.

Receiving no response after a week had gone by, I telephoned Elections Canada to inquire whether my complaint had been received. A person who identified himself as Pierre who wouldn’t give me his family name, appeared puzzled that no reference number had been attached to the email. He called back a few moments later to find out to which numbers the faxes had been addressed, and promised to call back “the same day.” This did not happen.

I had also sent my complaint by fax to the toll-free number listed on Election Canada’s contact page. I now realise that there is another fax number for the Commissioner’s office, so today I‘ve resent both letters by fax to this number. They‘ve both gone, so the Commissioner should be well informed by now.

update: september 14— I have received a telephone call and an email from Elections Canada assuring me that all my emails and faxes had been received by the Commissioner’s Office and that I would be contacted “in due course.”

update: september 17— I have received an email containing a PDF of a letter to me from Election Canada’s legal counsel. The letter acknowledges receipt of all correspondence to date, and requested any specific details and documentation that would enable an assessment of my complaint.

Counsel noted that:

“We have brought to Ms. Johannson’s attention the question that may arise where a nomination contestant has more than one role in a registered party, in this case, party leader. The application of subsection 404.3(1) in such a situation becomes more complex.…

“It is possible, depending on the particular circumstances, that the availability of party resources to the leader who is also a nomination contestant may amount to a provision of goods or services within this subsection. All goods and services provided to one nomination contestant must be offered to all nomination contestants equally.”

This issue may take some time to resolve. As soon as the nomination contest is out of the way, I’ll start compiling the evidence.

——

The Green Party’s letter to the Commissioner

September 9, 2009
Commissioner of Canada Elections
c/o Elections Canada
257 Slater Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0M6

Dear Commissioner:

I am writing in response to the public letter sent to you on September 3, 2009 by Stuart Hertzog concerning the September 19, 2009 Green Party of Canada nomination contest in the electoral district of Saanich Gulf Islands.

Mr. Hertzog claims that funds have been transferred from the Green Party of Canada to a Green Party nomination contestant in Saanich Gulf Islands, contravening Section 404.3(1) of the Elections Act. I am writing to inform you that the Green Party of Canada is in full compliance with the Elections Act and absolutely no funds have been transferred to a nomination contestant.

The Green Party of Canada has transferred funds to the Saanich Gulf Islands Green Party Electoral District Association. No conditions were placed on the transfer of funds and the funds are under the control of the Saanich Gulf Islands Green Party Electoral District Association.  The Electoral District Association has rented an office in Sidney for use by the Electoral District Association. The office is not being used by a nomination contestant.

The Green Party of Canada and the Saanich Gulf Islands Green Party Electoral District Association are committed to ensuring that goods and services are offered equally to all nomination contestants. Towards that end, Mr. Hertzog has indeed been provided with a membership list of Green Party members in the electoral district.

Thank you for your time, and please know that I am happy to answer any further questions regarding this matter.

Sincerely,

Catharine Johannson
Political Campaign Director
Green Party of Canada

cc. Dave Burrows, CEO, Saanich Gulf Islands Green Party EDA
     Stuart Hertzog, nomination contestant

 

My response to the Commissioner

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 11th 2009

Dear Commissioner,

re: letter to you from the green party of canada concerning the current nomination contest in saanich-gulf islands

I am responding to a letter sent to you on September 9th 2009 by Ms. Catharine Johannson, Political Campaign Director of the Green Party of Canada. This letter was written in response to my complaint to you dated September 3rd 2009.

In her letter, Ms. Johannson states that:

Mr. Hertzog claims that funds have been transferred from the Green Party of Canada to a Green Party nomination contestant in Saanich Gulf Islands, contravening Section 404.3(1) of the Elections Act. I am writing to inform you that the Green Party of Canada is in full compliance with the Elections Act and absolutely no funds have been transferred to a nomination contestant.

This is patently untrue. Ms. May is a nomination candidate along with myself and the funds were transferred to the EDA for use by her campaign for “pre-writ activities.” As this is a contested nomination election, these include her nomination campaign. The Green Party also has spent funds other than the money transferred directly to the EDA in support of Ms. May’s nomination as candidate in this EDA. It has paid for Ms. May to travel to the riding several times to prepare the ground for her candidacy and begin to campaign. It may have paid for and may still be paying for or is providing:

  • Travel and expenses of the volunteers working on Ms. May’s campaign, some of whom are members of the party’s Council or the party’s Campaign Committee;
  • The cost of Ms. May’s residence in the riding, which I understand may have been donated to the party by an individual, and if so would be considered a party resource;
  • Transporting and providing a collapsible backdrop and podium for Ms. May to make an ‘official’ announcement about her standing as a nomination candidate; and for
  • Cellphones and fax machines for Ms. May, her campaign manager, and volunteers.

If these expenses and party resources do exist and have been used in this way, I submit they are party funds and resources transferred unequally to a nomination candidate.

Conditions on the funds transferred to the EDA

In her letter, Ms. Johannson states that:

The Green Party of Canada has transferred funds to the Saanich Gulf Islands Green Party Electoral District Association. No conditions were placed on the transfer of funds and the funds are under the control of the Saanich Gulf Islands Green Party Electoral District Association.  The Electoral District Association has rented an office in Sidney for use by the Electoral District Association. The office is not being used by a nomination contestant.

I described in my complaint to you of September 3rd 2009 exactly how the decision was made to have Ms. May be the Green Party candidate in this riding; the transfer of funds and resources by the party through the EDA to her campaign; and the conditions given to the EDA for acceptance and specific use of these funds.

Ms. Johannson’s statement conflicts with the information I received directly from both Ms. May’s campaign manager and the EDA’s financial agent at all the EDA Board meetings I attended after signaling my intention to contest the nomination. It also conflicts with minutes of the party’s federal Council concerning its election strategy.

Control of the transferred funds rests only nominally with the EDA as it has been made clear that Ms. May’s campaign manager has sole authority on the use of these funds. The EDA’s financial agent simply signs the cheques after the invoices arrive.

Further, although Ms. May’s campaign office is described as not a campaign office, that is exactly how it is being used. It is not a Green Party community resource as has been suggested and the local merchants association does not wish to see it as such.

No equal provision of goods and services

In her letter, Ms. Johannson states that:

The Green Party of Canada and the Saanich Gulf Islands Green Party Electoral District Association are committed to ensuring that goods and services are offered equally to all nomination contestants. Towards that end, Mr. Hertzog has indeed been provided with a membership list of Green Party members in the electoral district.

I have already described how I have been denied equal access to party funds and goods. According to the party’s Nomination Procedures, I was supposed to receive without having to request it a copy of the membership list within 24 hours of being accepted as a nomination candidate. This did not happen, and I had to ask for the list several times, and ask again for a full list when only a partial list was provided to me. I received a more complete list only the evening of September 5th 2009 and have had to spend a lot of time extracting the information and manipulating it into a useable format.

However, Ms. May’s campaign has full access to the party’s official online membership database. The CiviCRM software that manages the database also allows users to send out emails instantaneously and easily to selected members. I have asked for but have not received equal access to the CiviCRM member database, and have had to spend time struggling to set up a similar resource on my own server. At this time, just a week away from the nomination election, I have yet to send out one email to members.

Not having access to the CiviCRM database has been a considerable handicap to me.

Time is of the essence in this matter

In conclusion, I respectfully submit that the Green Party of Canada has not supplied funds, goods, services, or party resources equally to myself and Ms. May in this EDA nomination contest, contrary to section 404.3 (1) of the Canada Elections Act. I ask you to investigate my complaint with all haste as time is of the essence in this matter.

Sincerely,

Stuart Hertzog
Nomination Candidate,
Saanich-Gulf Islands Green Party EDA


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