It’s boggling the level that some people and media outlets will sink too.
Bernadette Clement has run in five elections, including two for MP. Campaign spending limits are one of the most common features of any run.
In fact Ms Clement has a team around her. Not only is she herself a lawyer, but Etienne Saint Aubin is one too.
There is no reasonable excuse for her to have done this. Neglect, sure, not reading the clear rules, sure, incompetence? Arrogance? Who knows.
But it appears that her direct employee at City Hall, CAO Maureen Adams is trying to assist in covering up for her boss.
Let’s examine Mayor Clement’s statement on facebook.
Dear residents and dear residents of Cornwall,
In 2018, the ministry of municipal affairs and housing introduced a series of new rules for the municipal elections, which predict a new maximum amount that a candidate or that a candidate can personally contribute to his own campaign. I want to inform the voters and voters of the following:
Every election the rules are given to all candidates as a package. It is the candidates responsibility to adhere them, which would in fact include reading them as well as requesting any omitted documents if Manon Levesque, the city clerk who ran the election fumbled the ball, again (Ms Levesque made many boo boos this past election.
– the municipal elections act stipulates that a certificate must be issued indicating the maximum amount of the personal contribution by candidate or candidate.
– the law provides that the clerk or the clerk must deliver a certificate indicating the amount of personal contribution. If this amount is $ 25,000 a certificate is not necessary. No certificate has been issued to me. My campaign believed that the amount of my maximum personal contribution was $ 25,000. Therefore, I contributed $ 18,357 to my campaign.
As a member of the Upper Canada Law Society for many years Ms Clement surely would know that “I believed” is not fair dinkum as an answer, and as someone that has run for many elections, also not acceptable.
– in accordance with the law, I submitted my audited financial statements on March 22, 2019.
– on April 8, 2019, the chief administrator of the city informed me that, according to their understanding, the amount of my personal contribution would be $ 14,203.20, which would mean that I would have exceeded the amount of My personal contribution of $ 4,153.80.
– the next day, April 9th, I sent an email to the office of the clerk to confirm that I had been informed of the potential contribution and to explain my understanding of the circumstances.
Section 92 subsection (1)(a) of the the Municipal Elections Act states that a candidate found guilty of an offence and conviction, who incurs expenses that exceed the amount determined for the office under section 88.20, is subject to penalties in subsection 88.23 (2). These penalties include that the candidate in question forfeits any office to which they were elected, that the office is deemed vacant, and until the next regular election takes place, the candidate is ineligible to be elected or appointed to any office in which the Act applies. Additionally, the candidate may be liable to a fine equal to the excess as outlined in section 92 subsection (3). Those are the rules. It’s a very very serious offense.
I recognize that these rules are new and that this may have caused some confusion as to the process. I believe that all potential mistakes have been inadvertently committed and are probably due to the need to manage new rules in the context of a busy electoral season. I share this with you today because of my commitment to be transparent and I will keep you informed of any development.
I was too busy to follow the rules? The clerk was? Honestly, she’d need the assistance of Judge Rick Leroy to win this one in court. The utter arrogance of this answer is appalling, even by Cornwall standards.
If you would like more information on the rules governing municipal elections, please contact the ministry of municipal affairs and housing.
East Municipal Services Office: 1-800-267-9438
Thank you for dedicating me your time and attention,
This however is a politician who is spending more money keeping a bank building empty than she supported giving to keep the former City Public Art Gallery alive and open.
Perhaps Ms Clement would’ve had more time to read the rules personally if she had stepped down from her day job at the Legal Clinic? Again, not reading the rules of something you’ve done five times in your career is not a get out of jail free card. I myself read them and I didn’t run this election. What is her excuse?
Corrupt practice and ineligibility for office
91 (1) If a person is convicted of a corrupt practice under this Act, or of an offence under the Criminal Code(Canada) in connection with an act or omission that relates to an election to which this Act applies, then, in addition to any other penalty provided for in this Act,
(a) any office to which the person was elected is forfeited and becomes vacant; and
(b) the person is ineligible to be nominated for, or elected or appointed to, any office until the next two regular elections have taken place after the election to which the offence relates. 2009, c. 33, Sched. 21, s. 8 (61).
(2) However, if the presiding judge finds that the person committed the corrupt practice or offence under the Criminal Code (Canada) without any intent of causing or contributing to a false outcome of the election, clause (1) (b) does not apply. 2009, c. 33, Sched. 21, s. 8 (61).
Again, how could not reading the rules regarding campaign limits by someone who professionally is supposed to manage a trust fund as a lawyer make this oopsie in good faith? Is neglect good faith? Sure, maybe Ms Clement didn’t intentionally overspend, but if she took reasonable care, IE reading the rules in good faith, would this have happened?
What message would any judge be sending if she were allowed to walk from this?
Offences re campaign finances
Offences by candidate
92 (1) A candidate is guilty of an offence and, on conviction, in addition to any other penalty that may be imposed under this Act, is subject to the penalties described in subsection 88.23 (2),
(a) if the candidate incurs expenses that exceed the amount determined for the office under section 88.20; or
(b) if the candidate files a document under section 88.25 or 88.32 that is incorrect or otherwise does not comply with that section. 2016, c. 15, s. 68 (1).
Exception, action in good faith
(2) However, if the presiding judge finds that the candidate, acting in good faith, committed the offence inadvertently or because of an error in judgment, the penalties described in subsection 88.23 (2) do not apply. 2016, c. 15, s. 68 (1).
Additional penalty, candidates
(3) If the expenses incurred by or under the direction of a candidate exceed the amount determined for the office under section 88.20, the candidate is liable to a fine equal to the excess, in addition to any other penalty provided for in the Act. 2016, c. 15, s. 68 (1).
As for CAO Maureen Adams appearing to try and pinkwash this…it’s embarrassing. While it’s unfortunate that this occurred under her watch, there were two others than ran for mayor in this election.
There are those that voted. Money is power. It’s why we have election spending limits. And this happened under her offices watch. There were other irregularities in this election. Clearly we need more accountability and not less because once someone takes their oath there are no real devices to call them back.