2015 Kelowna-Lake Country federal election deal led to contraventions of Elections Act

But Elections Canada commissioner says Green Party won’t be prosecuted for supporting Liberal

The head of Elections Canada says a 2015 federal election campaign deal between Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal candidate Stephen Fuhr and Green Party candidate Gary Adams, in which Adams agreed to drop out of the race and support Fuhr in return for Fuhr promoting parts of the Green Party platform if elected, resulted in a contravention of the federal Elections Act.

But Commissioner Yves Côté says the contravention was unintentional and penalties will not be pursued.

Following an investigation into the Green Party’s action in the deal, Côté say the use of Green Party signs during the campaign to support Fuhr contravened the Elections Act.

“The Commissioner asserts that the use of these election signs belonging to the Green Party candidate’s campaign to promote the Liberal Party candidate constituted an ineligible non-monetary contribution to the Liberal Party candidate’s campaign,” Côté’s report states.

“The (federal Elections) Act does not allow for monetary or non-monetary contributions to be made between candidates’ campaigns. At the time of the use of the signs, the Contracting Party was not aware of Elections Canada’s and the Commissioner’s longstanding position that such use constituted an offence under the Act. As such, any contravention of the Act was unintentional. The Contracting Party disagrees with the application of the relevant provision to the fact situation at hand.”

The deal between Adams and Fuhr helped Fuhr defeat long-time incumbent Conservative Ron Cannan. While not happy about it at the time, the deal was not opposed by federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May and she did not name another Green candidate to replace Adams in the riding.

Since his election Fuhr has advanced and supported some Green Party initiatives. One of the most high-profile was the issue of electoral reform.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had promised electoral reform during the 2015 election campaign—possibly a form of proportional representation—pulled the issue off the table last year after saying there appeared to be no national consensus on how to proceed.

At the time, Fuhr was criticized by some local proportional representation supporters but defended himself saying he did what he promised by taking the issue to Ottawa and supporting it.

In his report on the deal between Adams and Fuhr, Côté said the value of the signs the Green Party in Kelowna-Lake Country used was $722.40. In addition to using Green Party signs to support Fuhr, the deal also called for Adams to support Fuhr’s candidacy and for his campaign to help Fuhr get elected.

The report says because the contravention of the federal Elections Act was “unintentional” and an amount equal to, or exceeding, the value of the non-monetary contribution was paid to the Receiver General of Canada by Fuhr’s campaign, the effect of the contribution on the political financing regime put in place by Parliament was reduced.

Daniel Ryder, who acted as the official agent for Adams and was responsible the financial transactions of Adams campaign, has agreed to “exercise due caution in order to ensure compliance with the relevant provisions of the act in the future,” says the report.

As a result, it concludes by with Elections Canada commissioner saying the agreement constitutes compliance and he will not refer the matter for prosecution under the federal Elections Act.

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