By RTH Staff
Published April 14, 2011
this blog entry has been updated
According to a press statement issued today by Norman Kearney, Burson's campaign manager, Returning Officer James Winn rejected Burson's candidacy application on Friday, May 8 because her nomination form EC20010 referenced an engagement letter signed by an auditor that was different from the engagement letter that was submitted with Burson's nomination.
The statement says Winn also rejected the second engagement letter because the signature was rendered in typeface rather than hand-written, and rejected the endorsement letter provided with Burson's nomination forms for reasons that were unclear.
The campaign team attempted to fax the corrected documents to Winn on Monday, May 11 - the deadline for nomination - but the fax would not go through.
Raise the Hammer has asked Burson's campaign for further details and is attempting to contact Winn. More to come as we learn more about this.
Returning officers are appointed for ten-year terms by the Chief Electoral Officer. Winn was appointed returning officer for Hamilton Centre on Dec. 1, 2010.
Here is the full text of the press statement from Burson's campaign:
Karen Burson will not be allowed to run in the 41st General Election. We are at a complete loss to explain why James Winn, the Returning Officer, rejected Karen's application on Friday, April 8th. We made every effort to satisfy his arbitrary requests by the deadline on Monday, April 10th but he was uncooperative.
We complained to the Chief Electoral Officer and were referred to the Electoral Events Sector. We have since been advised that the Returning Officer has final authority over registering nominated candidates. There does not appear to be a relevant appeals process in the Canada Elections Act.
Because Mr. Winn chose to exclude Karen from the election, voters in Hamilton Centre will not have a Green choice on their ballots this May. But the voters of Hamilton deserve choice. Big media owners denied Canadians choice when they excluded Elizabeth May from the debates. Now Mr. Winn has denied Hamiltonians choice by excluding Karen from the election.
Mr. Winn's shocking decision is a personal loss for Karen who hoped only for an opportunity to hold public office and serve the residents of Hamilton Centre. It is also a loss for the Green Party of Canada. But most of all it is a loss for the voters of Hamilton Centre. Karen is intelligent, outgoing, and funny, and she gushes with enthusiasm for this City and its people. She deserved to be on the ballot, but because of the absolute authority of one man she will not be.
The Canada Elections Act requires the following documents for registration of a nominated candidate:
1) Form EC20010;
2) A deposit of $1,000;
3) An engagement letter signed by the auditor consenting to act in that capacity; and
4) An endorsement letter signed by the leader or designate.
When Karen and I met with Mr. Winn on Friday we had 1) and 2) in our possession. 3) and 4) had been shipped by courier to Mr. Winn from the Green Party of Canada and he had them in his personal possession. We also had in our possession:
5) A second engagement letter signed by a different auditor.
Mr. Winn rejected 3) because 1) referenced 5). He would not allow us to substitute 3) for 5). He also rejected 5) because the signature by the auditor was made in typeface, not handwritten, despite this being a best practice accepted by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. He also demanded that 5) be dated, even though the first page stated in bold that the auditing services would be provided for the election to be held on May 2, 2011.
Mr. Winn returned 3) and 4) to us, said that they were unacceptable, and told us that he required a proper endorsement letter. He offered no explanation for why the endorsement letter was unacceptable. Karen attempted to leave her nomination papers with Mr. Winn but he told her that to do so would be "premature."
On Monday, our auditor made repeated attempts before and after the deadline to fax a third endorsement letter signed by hand to Mr. Winn, which he told them would be acceptable, but the fax could not complete.
Checks and balances are a fundamental principle of democracy. That none exist to limit the authority of the Returning Officer is disturbing.
Update: Norman Kearney has replied to RTH to provide additional details on why there were two letters of engagement:
It is standard practice for the Green Party of Canada to send both a letter of engagement from an auditor and an endorsement letter from the Leader. The auditor's letter is sent as a backup in the event that the campaign cannot find a local auditor. Because we did have a local auditor, we did not need the letter from the Party.
But when Mr. Winn did not accept our letter we asked if he would accept the Party's letter instead, and we would fill out a copy of page 1 of form EC20010, which had been provided with the Party's letter and had the fields for the auditor completed, to reflect the change.
For reasons that are unclear to us, that was also unacceptable.
Kearney also explained that the original copies of the nomination papers are not currently available to view, as they "remain in the custody of the returning officer".
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