Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Liberal Leadership financial reporting is...

... yet another reason why pre-election disclosure of campaign contributions is needed in Canada.

Just to get you up to speed: candidates for the Federal Liberal leadership election - which ended on December 2, 2006 (185 days ago) - have had 6 months to file their financial statements.

Today, Elections Canada is pleased to inform us, only 3 of the 11 candidates filed their final reports by the June 4, 2007 deadline.

Here's the list:

Incredibly, this is even more of problem at other levels (anything other than federal party leadership elections), so this is not to pick on these people in particular, but again, this shows in general why post-election disclosure doesn't work.

Other than the potential of a fine, candidates who lose have very little impetus to file their returns. They already lost, what more can we do to them?

But, this wouldn't be the case if we had stronger pre-election disclosure requirements in Canada.

Particularly, if any candidate who didn't disclose (at the very least) who has contributed to them and in what amount, by a specified date before the vote would be disqualified.

Sure it's tough to get volunteers to put together your financial statements after you lose, but should that be a legitimate reason not to disclose who funded your campaign? Clearly not.

Harper and Co. should see this as an opportunity to inject some transparency into general elections. Tell voters before they vote, who's in the backroom writing the cheque, or you don't get to run. It's that simple.

UPDATE: I was not entirely clear in the first draft of this post, federal leadership elections have a requirement for pre-election disclosure of contributions only, but no other level of election does. Federal general elections, provincial general elections and municipal general elections all have post-election disclosure requirements. Some municipalities don't even have any disclosure, pre or post election.

The final 8 Liberal leadership candidates all filed 4 pre-election disclosures of campaign contributions. Which, is again good proof as to why pre-election disclosure works and is needed.

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