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: