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News Release

Prime Minister Harper’s Conservatives Make It Clear They Will Break Promises to Democratize Election Candidate Nomination Races

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

OTTAWA - Today, Democracy Watch criticized Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives' clear abandonment of their election promises to pass laws to“Ensure that party nomination and leadership races are conducted in a fair, transparent, and democratic manner” and to “Prevent party leaders from appointing candidates without the democratic consent of local electoral district associations.”

While the Conservatives introduced Bill C-54 last May (it didn’t pass and has not been re-introduced) addressing loans to federal parties, riding associations, and all types of candidates, the bill is very flawed because it only limits loans from individuals to the amount of their annual donation limit, while allowing banks (which are regulated by the federal government) and federal political parties to loan as much as they want, thereby giving bank and political party executives the power to pick and choose candidates they want to support with loans that will, of course, influence whether the candidate supports the bank’s and party’s policy proposals.

Bill C-54 is also very flawed because it does nothing to make secret donations to nomination race candidates or party leadership candidates illegal (changes made to the Canada Elections Act by the Federal Accountability Act finally made secret donations to election candidates illegal as of June 12, 2007).

In addition, the Conservatives have not introduced a bill to prevent party leaders from appointing candidates, and have resisted and rejected the results of riding nomination races.  For example:

  • in Conservative MP Rob Anders’ Alberta riding, the party has been resisting attempts to ensure a fair nomination race, including appealing a court ruling that states that the Party broke its own rules in shutting out a challenger to Anders;
  • in Nova Scotia MP Bill Casey’s riding, the Party is attempting to remove the Conservative riding association executive because of their support for Casey being the Conservative candidate in the next federal election, and;
  • in two ridings in Ontario, the candidates selected through the Party’s own local riding association processes have been removed by the Party’s national council.
“As with so many of their government accountability promises, Deceivin’ Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have made it clear that they will break their promises to democratize election candidate nomination races and party leadership races,” said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch.

Democracy Watch will continue to push all the federal parties to democratize all federal election processes, as well as to close the many other loopholes in the federal government’s accountability system. (To see the full list of the Conservatives' 24 broken accountability and democratic reform promises, click here) and to see the full list of loopholes, go to the Clean Up the System webpage).

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Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179

To see a summary of the key measures in Bill C-2, the so-called Federal Accountability Act, click here

To see a summary of the 90 undemocratic loopholes in the federal government's accountability system that Bill C-2 does nothing to close, click here

To see the details about the ethics complaint Democracy Watch has filed about the Conservatives' breaking their election promises concerning Bill C-2, click here

To see an opinion piece about Bill C-2 by Democracy Watch Coordinator Duff Conacher which was published in two Canadian newspapers, click here

To see Bill C-2, the so-called“Federal Accountability Act”and related federal government documents go to: http://www.accountability.gc.ca

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