"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Calling all lawyers
I'm curious and seeking a free legal opinion. David Emerson ran as a Liberal in the riding of Vancouver Kingsway. He begged NDP supporters to vote for him in order to keep the Conservatives from winning the seat. He said the day before the election that if elected he would be "Stephen Harper's worst enemy" and was elected to Parliament. The Conservatives came a distant third with 18% of the vote. Two weeks later, at the opening of Parliament, Mr. Emerson defects and joins the Conservative Cabinet. Much screeching, shouting and gnashing of teeth ensues on both sides of the floor.

My questions: Can voters in the riding, the Liberal riding association or the federal Liberal party sue David Emerson for breach of promise? Can he be forced to return campaign contribution for acting in bad faith?

Just curious...


Chimera said...

I don't think a breach-of-promise suit is feasible (although it was an excellent thought). The reason would be that no judge would expect that any voters would believe election promises to be carried out, especially if the incumbent party is turfed, as happened here... The "promises" made are actually seen more as "hopes" than reality.

There is, however, another weapon at hand, if it can be dusted off and properly used (which is difficult, because the rules for using it are almost as arcane as the recipe for the Philosophers' Stone) -- and that is RECALL.

The voters in Emerson's riding have the right to recall him and force a by-election. It has been tried in the past; and it has failed in the past because it is such a convoluted process, and the rules are open to interpretation by Elections Canada and the federal government.

It does, however, send a clear message that "we are damned unhappy!" to the offender.

Chimera said...

Sadly, I'm going to have to correct my previous comment.

It seems that RECALL is a provincial-only weapon, available only in BC, and applies only to provincial-level politics. Oh, well.

On the other hand, I heard on the news that the Liberal Riding Association for Vancouver Kingsway is not only demanding that Emerson repay the $96,000.00 that was raised for his campaign by the 300-plus volunteers, but they are also trying to force him to step down and run in a by-election.

Best of luck to them!

the rev. said...

I would expect there to be an angry mob outside his constituency office most of the week. Pitchforks and torches all around I say!

Chimera said...

Yup! For as long as the constituency office remains in one piece, that is...

I caught this from Bourque:


Maybe recall is a federal option, after all. There are already a lot of signatures...