Liberals may be illegally fundraising, NDP says

James McLeod
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Lisa Dempster

The byelection in Cartwright-L’anse au Clair hasn’t been formally called yet, but the NDP is already saying that the Liberals may be violating election financing laws.

Liberal candidate Lisa Dempster was in St. John’s Wednesday, and she was going to be at a fundraiser in the evening to help pay for her campaign expenses. Dempster told The Telegram that everything is above board, but NDP president Kathleen Connors says the fundraiser is the sort of thing New Democrats were warned about in 2011.

Longtime Liberal MHA Yvonne Jones resigned her seat on April 8. Premier Kathy Dunderdale has not yet called a byelection to fill the seat.

According to Bruce Chaulk, director of elections finance with Elections Newfoundland and Labrador, a candidate can’t start fundraising until the writ is issued and an election is formally called.

“The only time you can become a candidate is actually after you’ve filed your nomination papers with us. Only a candidate or a registered party can fundraise,” Chaulk said. “You can’t be a candidate until you’ve filed your nomination papers. You can’t file your nomination papers until the writ is issued.”

The Liberal Party website makes it clear that Wednesday night’s fundraiser is for Dempster’s election campaign.

“Tickets are $125 or $100 if you are a member of the Party Patrons,” a posting on the Liberal Party website says. “Support Lisa for the upcoming by-election in Cartwright–L’Anse au Clair.”

Where the whole thing gets tangly is that political parties can hold fundraisers any time they want. Moreover, after the writ is issued, the party can give money to the candidate for the campaign.

Dempster told The Telegram that’s exactly what she’s doing.

“I’m not having a fundraiser,” she said. “There’s a reception going ahead for the Liberal Party that I am going to. But we know the details. I have got the sharpest chief financial officer in the province, and he is actually in town as well.”

Dempster said she hadn’t seen the wording of the Liberals’ event notice, so she couldn’t comment on that. But she said she knows the rules, and with federal Conservative Peter Penashue embroiled in an election financing scandal, everyone in Labrador is making sure they’re all squeaky clean.

“Penashue done it for us. We don’t want to go down that same road,” she said.

Connors said the NDP has been down this road before, and the party has been specifically warned by Elections Newfoundland and Labrador that a political party fundraising for a specific candidate’s campaign is against the rules.

Connors said if the Elections Act is being interpreted differently now, that’s fine, so long as everyone is playing by the same rules.

“We’ve talked about fundraising for the byelection in Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair,” she said. “If it’s being allowed, and it would appear that it’s OK, then we’re certainly quite prepared to begin our fundraising.”

Chaulk said he can’t know for sure if Dempster is breaking the rules until he looks into the situation.

“I’d have to look at it and figure out whether it is or isn’t in violation of the act,” he said. “I wouldn’t know for sure until I looked at it.”

Twitter: TelegramJames


Organizations: NDP, Liberal Party, The Telegram Party Patrons

Geographic location: Cartwright, Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Justin
    May 14, 2013 - 13:16

    The Liberals are doing everything correct and by the book. The NDP are just stirring up trouble because they know who's going to win (the Liberals). On with the Campaign! Let's hope the NDP do their homework before they make a show of themselves in public next time!!!

  • Michael
    May 12, 2013 - 02:30

    It sounds to me like sour grapes because the Liberals probably have the best chance to win after many people not being happy with the Conservatives recently. People in my opinion shouldn't suggest accusations like that unless they have some kind of evidence to back it up. Why not just focus on the issues, the problems that need to be solved and everyone work together for the good of the people? Is that really so hard?

  • Adam
    May 10, 2013 - 23:41

    Election NL said Thursday afternoon that the Liberals broke no rules, and did nothing wrong. I have no idea why The Telegram hasn't said so, or why no story with the truth is on their website.

    • Pam Frampton
      May 11, 2013 - 16:21

      Good point, Adam. We actually published the story in our Friday edition saying the Liberals broke no rules, but it didn't get posted to our website. It's there now.

  • Ben
    May 10, 2013 - 09:53

    The Liberals want everyone to think they do everything clean! Worth your while to check out the last couple of bi elections that took place. There were MHA's, former MHA's, office staff everywhere in the district but when the expenses came out there were no expenses claimed! Yep sounds like its all on the up and up. If all those expenses were claimed it would have been well over the election limit! And if anyone saw the initial ad for the fundraiser it was to raise money for Lisa Dempsters elction! Spin it whichever way they want!

  • Duggan
    May 09, 2013 - 16:22

    The entire reason there is a federal byelection in Labrador is because of dodgy election financing that caused Penashue to resign and Jones give up her seat. Mrs. Dempster, at least turn on a TV set if you're not smart enough to read a newspaper. Election rules are there in place, go have your sharpest chief financial officer pick up a copy of the rules and read them before you go off and make another mistake.

  • What Liberal Party Fundraising
    May 09, 2013 - 11:56

    The provincial Liberal party is nearly $1 million in debt and have been that way for almost 10 years now. Not a great fundraising machine there. Here is a a legal and legitimate hint Ms. Dempster, the Cartwright-L'anse au Clair district Liberal association can legally fundraise all year long and then contribute financially to it's candidate's campaign. Don't rely on the crowd in the Liberal opposition office for advice, they really are in chaos and have not been effective at much for years.

  • Dianne
    May 09, 2013 - 11:34

    Liberal are of to a fine start...Just smoke and mirrors TRICKS...I guess they are taking lessons from Mr Penashue...And top it all of...Using poor young Mr Winters to score points...Ours new Liberal Party of NL...Thank you...More to come..

  • Randy
    May 09, 2013 - 10:49

    What is it about Labrador politics and breaking the rules?

  • HVGB is not a base
    May 09, 2013 - 10:07

    That's ok because, just to be fair, if elections Canada takes charge of this case and acts as fast as they have been with the peter penashue case, then she'll be into her pension years before we get to the bottom of this. What a joke they have be come. Didn't penashue say, when he was pretending he was elected to the harper conservatives, that the SAR in Quebec was going to close.

  • Same old
    May 09, 2013 - 08:19

    Rules are rules .... until you find a way around them. She will fit in well with the other MHAs.

  • Shane
    May 09, 2013 - 08:11

    Urg, this is tangly, but seems legit. If a party can hold a fundraiser whenever it wants, and then give the money to whoever they want, I fail to see what the fuss is about.