Monday , January 18 2021

Braid: Stephen Mandel improperly prohibited offense that constitutes zero



Albert's party leader Stephen Mandel talks about a press conference in Edmonton on Saturday, February 9, 2019.

Canadian press / Jason Franson

There is a sure way to lose a choice – get yourself banned from running.

It is the strange fate of the Albert Party after its leader Stephen Mandel and five other candidates were disqualified for not submitting nomination reports on time.

Nothing like this happened to any party leader before. This is because the rules under which Mandel now finds himself as a non-candidate were first passed in 2016.

That year, NDP expanded standards and sanctions for party and party party elections.

It was clear that the Alberta party was slightly matched to a change that did not seem so important before it jumped up and beat the leader.

This is embarrassing and damaging to a small party trying to cut a niche for itself in the conservative center.

But the draconian punishment is absurd from a less bureaucratic obsession.

Almond was praised last year as Albert's party candidate in Edmonton-McClung riding. Because there were no other candidates, he did not fight.

Get it now: His financial statement shows he didn't receive donations and didn't spend money.

The official Alberta form has 30 reporting lines. Each entry is zero.

There is very little chance of fun business in a campaign that does not require money, spend money, promises money or actually has money.

To submit this document a little late, the guy who was a three-man Edmonton mayor was banned in Albert's policy for five years – and fined $ 500.

The money-free document was received by Chief Electoral Officer last September 27. But Mandel only learned on January 30 that he is forbidden. The choice could be called any day now.

Based on the facts, it is easy to suspect sabotage.

But it is not. This is regulation that runs wild. Choice Alberta, always careful, uses only the rules it has given by NDP.

Greg Clark, Alberta Party MLA for Calgary-Elbow.

Larry Wong /

Postmedia

"I warned them when discussing this in committee," says Greg Clark, Alberta Party MLA for Calgary-Elbow, who has not been banned.

"I said there would be unintended consequences for applying these rules to all parties. And now this."

"NDP has been obsessed with this kind of legislation. I counted them one day – they have passed seven bills of choice and funding."

Almond, and presumably some of the other Alberta candidates, will apply for the Court of Queen's Bench for reversals.

He claims that the time of the notices was confusing and he actually complied with the rules.

I would be shocked if any judge held a five-year ban on the leader of a legitimate party because of this lapse.

The penalties can even be a violation of Mandel's constitutional democratic rights. Point 3 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees both voting rights and service.

UCP leader Jason Kenney calls the penalty "disproportionate."

Jeff McIntosh /

The Canadian press

UCP Leader Jason Kenney stood up for Mandel, saying he supports his court application.

Calling the sentence "disproportionately," Kenney said the ban is "Part of NDP's overreach in trying to micromanage internal party nominations through law. "

Conservative of all stripes – Progressive Conservatives, Wildrose, Alberta Party and now the UCP – have never wanted the government's interference in party cases they consider private. They say that financial accountability should only apply to actual elections and city selections.

Clark adds: "I agree with financial reporting for party leadership campaigns." But he adds that he finds it ridiculous to demand financial resources from each candidate for each party's nomination, both winners and losers.

Christina Gray, the NDP minister behind the wealth of bills, says the goal was to get "big money" out of politics.

In the Mandel case, she has managed excellently to keep zero money out of politics.

Gray offers some sympathy for anyone who lacks deadlines. The rules are clear, she claims.

My own view is that there should be some overview of the financing of party grants. True offenses and financial difficulties should be punished.

But for heaven's sake, there is also room for common sense.

The Don Braid column appears regularly in the Herald

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