Judge rules Conservative party leadership race erred in banning pro-life candidate
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ONTARIO, May 21, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – An Ontario judge has ruled that banned Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) leadership candidate Jim Karahalios can be allowed to re-enter the leadership race, so long as he meets conditions set out by the judge within a two-week window.
On May 20, Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell ruled Karahalios is again allowed to be a verified candidate, but he must pay $100,000 within 14 days to be back on the ballot.
Perell’s ruling stated that neither the CPC’s Dispute Resolution Appeals Committee (DRAC) nor the party’s Chief Returning Officer (CRO) had the authority to disqualify Karahalios. This ability, Perell says, falls to the CPC’s Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC).
“The authority to disqualify is reserved to the eighteen members of the (leadership organizing committee) which has never formally or properly considered the matter of Mr. Karahalios’ status as a candidate,” said Perell in his ruling.
“Mr. Karahalios[’] status is properly left to the LEOC to adjudicate. That was the contractual arrangement of the candidates with the Conservative Party. LEOC is in the position to determine if the conduct of the Mr. Karahalios was such that he should be disqualified as a candidate.”
Perell’s full summary judgment is as follows:
a. I declare that the DRAC Decision of March 18, 2020 to disqualify Mr. Karahalios’ as a candidate for the Conservative Party leadership was invalid, and I set aside the DRAC Decision.
b. I declare that if Mr. Karahalios complies with the Ruling of the CRO dated March 17, 2020 within fourteen days of the release of these Reasons for Decision, he is a Verified Leadership Candidate in good standing.
c. I Order that within twenty days of the release of these Reasons for Decision, the Conservative Fund pay what are known as “Directed Contributions” in accordance with Rule 4.4.6 of the Leadership Rules and s. 365 of the Canada Elections Act.
d. I Order that the above Declarations and the Orders are without prejudice to the rights of the LEOC to determine the rules and procedures for the conduct of the leadership selection process, including the right of LEOC to amend the Rules or issue further rules or procedures as it deems necessary to conduct an open, fair, and equitable election Process while respecting the Constitution as passed by the Conservative Party Membership at the start of the leadership process.
Karahalios launched a lawsuit against the CPC in early April for what he called an “unlawful” disqualification during the campaign, with the goal being reinstatement in the leadership race.
In his lawsuit, Karahalios said he felt the party disqualified him in bad faith, “once it became apparent, he would meet the ballot criteria,” which he did before the March 25 deadline.
Karahalios’s lawyers said the party disqualified him “as a result of a complaint filed by the Erin O’Toole campaign requesting his disqualification.”
Karahalios sent an email to his followers in early March with the title, “Say NO to Shariah Law. Stop Erin O’Toole.” O’Toole complained publicly that Karahalios was a “racist” for this email.
In a statement sent to his followers on May 20, Karahalios said the judge ruled that his campaign contributions should be returned to his campaign account, “as the Leadership Rules have always required but which the Party had resisted.”
He also said that the court ruled that they do not have the “jurisdiction to judge the appropriateness of the CRO Derek Vanstone's prior sanctions – sanctions which he has not levied on any other candidate in this race for their campaign communications.”
Court documents show that on March 17, the CPC’s CRO Derek Vanstone slapped a $50,000 penalty against Karahalios for his O’Toole comments.
Vanstone also set out conditions, which along with the penalty, including an increase in his deposit to run to $150,000, instead of the $100,000 required for all other candidates. Karahalios appealed Vanstone’s ruling which subsequently saw him disqualified by the DRAC.
“The CRO investigated Mr. O’Toole’s complaint, and he consulted with some members of the Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC). The CRO made a ruling on March 17, 2020. The CRO imposed a reporting obligation and a financial penalty on Mr. Karahalios. Mr. Karahalios appealed the CRO’s Ruling to the Dispute Resolution Appeal Committee (DRAC), and it disqualified Mr. Karahalios altogether from the Leadership Contest,” says the ruling.
Perell ruled that in his opinion, “there was no procedural unfairness and there was no bad faith. There was nothing untoward or unlawful about the CRO’s Ruling, which was to impose a penalty but not to disqualify Mr. Karahalios.”
“I appreciate that neither party wanted the CRO’s Ruling reinstated, but that was because Mr. Karahalios wanted to avoid any sanction at all, which is a result that he is not entitled to, and the Conservative Party wanted to preserve the DRAC decision, which is a result that it is not entitled to. The appropriate result, which is consistent with contract law doctrine, is that the remedy for a breach of contract is to put the wronged party in the position that he or she would have been had the contract been performed. In the immediate case, the appropriate result is to restore the CRO Ruling,” said Perell in his ruling.
“As a result, the challenge before me is that in order to get on the ballot, I have to raise an additional $100,000 without the use of the Party lists as the CRO required. The Court has given me 14 days to raise this amount in order to be placed on the ballot,” said Karahalios in his May 20 statement.
Karahalios says that he is looking at the court’s ruling to best determine how he can re-enter the race.
“While I disagree with the CRO's heavy handed ruling, I have no further means by which to appeal it because of the Court's limited jurisdiction,” said Karahalios in his statement.
“I am currently reviewing the Court's ruling to assess how I can best re-enter the race in a competitive manner that respects the Court's ruling, the Rules of the race as clarified by the Court, and the will of Conservative Party members.”
The two official pro-life candidates in the running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada are Dr. Leslyn Lewis, and MP Derek Sloan. MP Erin O’Toole and former MP Peter MacKay are the other two official candidates.
The Conservative Party leadership race was suspended in late March due to the coronavirus. The LEOC has set an August 21 date to end the race. Party members will be voting via mail-in ballots, which will be sent out to members in July.