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Federal Liberal leadership race rules undemocratic, unethical

Set out below is a letter-to-the-editor by Democracy Watch Coordinator Tyler Sommers which was published in the the Hill Times on September 17, 2012

The federal Liberals had an opportunity to set ethical, democratic rules for their party leadership race, but have failed to do so.

The $75,000 entry fee is much too high, and candidates should have been allowed to qualify through gathering signatures of support, not just by paying an exorbitant fee.

Candidates who are not MPs are not required by law to disclose all donations they receive because of loopholes — so the Party should be requiring this disclosure.

Candidates are also not required by law to disclose support they receive through volunteer labour because of loopholes — so the Party should also be requiring this disclosure so that anyone who does a favour for any candidate will be known and future conflicts of interest can be prevented.

Loans to candidates by themselves should have prohibited, and the amount of any loan should have been limited to the same level donations are limited ($1,300).

And people casting a ballot should have been allowed to vote “none-of-the-above” if they don’t like any of the candidates.

It is dangerous to allow political parties who are choosing a potential Prime Minister to set whatever rules they want for their leadership race — the above rules should be added to the Canada Elections Act, and Elections Canada given full powers to oversee leadership races.

For more details, go to Democracy Watch’s Voter Rights Campaign page