Thursday, May 10, 2007

Accountability part deux- Riding Associations

You’d think the Cons might actually try to implement Accountability I before they introduced Accountability II this week, but I guess they needed something to try to distract Canadians from their bungling of the Afghan detainees file, their ongoing environmental incompetence, two new expense scandals, their sinking in the polls, and so on.

I think others have done a good job of pointing-out many of the flaws in the proposed legislation around loans and how it’s clearly politically motivated, so I’m going to (try) to down my partisan cannons for a moment and point to what I view as a rather serious flaw that should be revisited:

Rules for the treatment of unpaid loans would be tightened to ensure candidates cannot walk away from unpaid loans: riding associations will be held responsible for unpaid loans taken out by their candidates.
I agree candidates should not be able to walk away from unpaid loans from their campaign. But it’s wrong to tag the riding association with that debt. Make the candidate personally liable.

When I lived in B.C. I served a few terms as communications chair of our local riding association, and we had one election campaign (2004) while I was there. We had a strong nomination race in our rural riding with three candidates signing-up well over 1000 people. We’d had a few fundraisers since 2000, and were able to transfer some healthy seed money to the winning candidate for his campaign.

But once the candidate was selected, the involvement of the riding association was over. Some executive members were invited to join the campaign team, but the candidate brought in many of his own people. At this point it’s the candidate’s show, along with his campaign manager. What he spends, how he raises money, that’s all up to the candidate. If he's smart he works with the riding executive, but he's under no obligation to do so.

The riding association has no ability to influence the handing of the election campaign. When the election was over and we got a look at the books we had a lot of issues, and didn’t agree with how some things were handled by the candidate and his campaign manager. For example, it’s traditional to return at least some of the Elections Canada refund to the riding association to seed the next campaign, this candidate pre-spent it instead. We were livid, but it was out of our control.

That’s why I don’t agree with holding the riding association responsible for any debts or bad loans taken-out by the candidate. The riding association has no control over that, it’s all in the hands of the candidate and their campaign. The riding has no ability to influence their or keep them in check, so trying to leave them holding the bag is unfair. It’s simple: make candidates accountable for their campaigns.

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Darren McEwen said...

Don't worry... some Con riding association presidents are just resigning.... over allegations of corruption within their own party. :)

Love it. Yet so sad to see them falling apart at the seams.

CT said...

Wow, you can pre-spend your refund? That doesn't seem right.

"Democratic Reform" week has been complete fraud.