Quashing Harper eligibility rumour

While Twitter gives an opportunity for anyone to voice an opinion on Election 41, it’s also proving to be an excellent conduit for unmitigated bunkum.

Case to point: The Twitter rumour that Stephen Harper cannot legally run for Parliament because he was found in contempt.

The origin of this thread appears to be Paul W. Kincaid, who runs the website presscore.ca.

“PRESS Core is your source for in depth investigative reporting on news that affects us all. PRESS Core publishes what others refuse to publish – the truth. PRESS Core presents the FACTS, not FICTION,” it explains.

In a post, the site contends that the contempt of Parliament finding that triggered the election is akin to the impeachment of a U.S. president.

“According to parliamentary law, contempt of parliament is a federal crime. Being that Harper has been found guilty of a crime Harper is barred from seeking re-election on May 2, 2011.”

Where to begin?

First, Harper himself was not found in contempt of Parliament. His government was.

Second, contempt of Parliament is not a federal crime. Parliament is not governed by federal law, only the Constitution and the standing rules.

Third, even if contempt was a violation of law, there is no prohibition in the Elections Act against a convicted criminal from seeking election. Just ask Ivan Grose,  who had served time for bank robbery long before becoming a Liberal MP for Oshawa from 1993 to 2004. As long as you are not in jail and meet other conditions of the Canada Elections Act, you’re good to go.

There is a provision that bars as as candidate  someone found guilty of a corrupt or illegal practice under the Elections Act itself. But, again, there is no allegation and certainly no finding against Harper under the Elections Act. (Four Conservative Party officials face Elections Act charges, but not under this provision.)

UPDATE: Elections Canada passes along the relevant sections of the law:

Ineligible candidates
65. The following persons are not eligible to be a candidate:
(a) a person who is not qualified as an elector on the date on which his or her nomination paper is filed;
(b) a person who is disentitled under paragraph 502(3)(a) while they are so disentitled; (see below)
(c) a member of the legislature of a province, the Council of the Northwest Territories or the Legislative Assembly of Yukon or Nunavut.
(d) a sheriff, clerk of the peace or county Crown Attorney in any of the provinces;
(e) a person who is not entitled under section 4 to vote;
(f) a judge appointed by the Governor in Council, other than a citizenship judge appointed under the Citizenship Act;
(g) a person who is imprisoned in a correctional institution;
(h) an election officer; and
(i) a person who was a candidate in a previous election and for whom a return, report, document or declaration has not been provided under subsection 451(1), if the time and any extension for providing it have expired

502(3)(a)
Consequences of illegal, corrupt practices
(3) Any person who is convicted of having committed an offence that is an illegal practice or a corrupt practice under this Act shall, in addition to any other punishment for that offence prescribed by this Act, in the case of an illegal practice, during the next five years or, in the case of a corrupt practice, during the next seven years, after the date of their being so convicted, not be entitled to
(a) be elected to or sit in the House of Commons; or
(b) hold any office in the nomination of the Crown or of the Governor in Council

 

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16 thoughts on “Quashing Harper eligibility rumour

  1. How about those Liberal MPs who still owe money to Elections Canada on being candidates for leader of the Liberal Party? It seems to me they shouldn’t be allowed to run when they still owe money.

    How about Pablo’s DUI incident? Has a court date been sent?

    How about Holland and Jennings taking Conservative files and flaunting them publicly? The Speaker hasn’t ruled on that yet? They shouldn’t be allowed to run until that case is set.

    • How about dealing in present day with the fact that the ‘Harper Government of Canada’ was charged with Contempt of Parliament.
      How about dealing in present day with the fact that the ‘Harper Government of Canada’ wants to cut corporate tax, thus, not helping to decrease the ‘historic deficit’.
      Then there’s the charge from ‘Elections Canada’ and the list goes on and on and on. A CON is a CON is a CON ~ the abbreviation fits.
      Harper can not be trusted nor any of his minions.
      Leave the Liberal bashing for another day and stay focused on the issue at hand TODAY. Today the government is dissolved because of CONTEMPT of OUR Parliament.

  2. The Conservative party was (deemed) to be in Contempt of Parliment
    by a committee, said committee did NOT actually hold a vote.
    As it stands …parliment DID NOT have a vote either has to the guilt or NOT of the conservatives.
    Unless parliment has that vote, the conservatives are guilty of nothing.
    NO parlimentary vote …NO contempt of parliment…period.

    And it’s the Liberals own fault, they forced the election before the house of commons could vote contempt of parliment by the conservatives.

    You’ll notice the contempt thingy disappear shortly from Liberal accusations
    they haven’t been found in contempt by parliment, only by private individuals, and there’s NO LIBEL protection outside of the house.
    Conservatives haven’t been found in contempt of anything, and won’t be until parliment votes on it ….after the election.!

  3. So what of the Harper party being in court charged with elections fraud? Is there no law stipulating you need to be cleared of such charges before being eligible to keep going into elections? And if there isn’t we certainly need some changes to our electoral laws and system. Trust the Harper government to find all the loopholes to slip through and make Canadians pay for their legal battles rather than follow our laws or if they don’t like them change them in the normal respectful way. This way they have already set a precedent that you can challenge our laws in an election and then just keep appealing the decisions for as long as you want to hang onto power. Harper knew he could win in a fair race obviously.

  4. “First, Harper himself was not found in contempt of Parliament. His government was.”

    Not actually true. The House never adopted the motion.

  5. Toots how do you square the circle about the six or seven Liberals who were vying for their party’s leadership years and years ago and Elections Canada just continues to rubber stamp time extensions after time extensions for them to pay back the money they still owe. And now they are in an election again.

  6. Bill in Ajax, time to put down the Harper Kool-Aid, you’re losing touch with reality. Parliament did vote on it and found the Harper Government in contempt.

    On March 21, the Commons procedures and House affairs committee voted to recommend that the Harper Government be held in contempt of Parliament. On March 25, the House voted 156-145 in favour of a motion citing the Harper Government for contempt of Parliament and expressing non-confidence. That most certainly was Parliament finding the government of the day in contempt – for the first time in Canadian and Commonwealth history!

    • Not true Herb.

      The way for the House to agree with a committee report is through a concurrence motion. On Wednesday Scott Brison moved the motion to concur, which requires 3 hours of debate before it can be voted on. At 5:30pm, debate was suspended for private members hour. The debate and vote would resume this week if the House was still sitting.

      The opposition day motion on Friday did not concur in the report (it cant) – it instead said that the house agreed with the committee that the government is in contempt, and therefore has lost confidence. That’s cheating.

      Politically its all the same – who knows or cares what the difference is between an opposition day motion and a concurrence motion – but officially, it makes a world of difference.

  7. Glen McGregor.while reaching an incorrect conclusion, has made some excellent points why the legality should be investigated.
    If this is the first time in Canadian history,
    shouldn’t the law be scrutinized very carefully in this case so Canadians are not subject to another historic contempt ruling and completely economically unsound bastardization of Canadian parliamentary process unnecessarily costing the public at least $300 million. This is economically pathetic.

  8. Privilege Versus Contempt – directly from the Parliamentary Web Site:

    http://www2.parl.gc.ca/MarleauMontpetit/DocumentViewer.aspx?DocId=1001&Sec=Ch03&Seq=4&Lang=E

    …..excerpt:
    As Speaker Sauvé explained in a 1980 ruling, “ … while our privileges are defined, contempt of the House has no limits. When new ways are found to interfere with our proceedings, so too will the House, in appropriate cases, be able to find that a contempt of the House has occurred.” [90] *

  9. To me, it seems logical and reasonable that if a government is decidedly guilty of contempt of parliament, then it has lost all right to govern now and for a punishing period of time. Without respect for the system itself (i.e. while aiming to corrupt the system until it no longer functions according to its Constitution), they’re nothing more than anarchists…or worse.
    I would like to see the current members of the Conservative government barred from holding office for a significant period of time, their pensions and their privileges lost, and a jail term in the filthiest prison for abusing their oaths of office and shaming all Canadians. Harper, perhaps, as proven puppet master and party leader, should receive the greatest scorn and punishment.
    What kind of person would even still support politicians like this? Canadians constantly surprise me with how low they will drop their standards for the meanest personal gain. Anyone who still supports Harper and the rest don’t deserve a vote.
    I’m surprised that the other parties have not yet moved to make this happen, preferring instead a useless election where nothing changes. Any lawyers out there want to stand up and earn a place in history? Do we yet live in a functioning democracy? Or did I make a wrong turn somewhere and I’m living in the Gaddhafi regime…

  10. What is clear is that Harper and his government have been finding ways to circumvent our parliamentary institutions and – by extension – our democracy. Why ANY Canadians would vote for this controlling, misogynist bully is beyond me! Wake up, sheeples!

  11. William of Ajax:
    Parliament DID have a vote. It was held on March 26, 2011. “The opposition parties held the prime minister in contempt of parliament in a 156-145 vote…”

    Regardless of your own personal interpretation, the government fell on this vote of non-confidence on the motion of Contempt of Parliament.

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