The pestering begins: Liberal leadership candidates with campaign debt (Updated twice)
Apr 15, 2013

The pestering begins: Liberal leadership candidates with campaign debt (Updated twice)

I was very critical after the NDP Leadership election that the inboxes of supporters were full of emails from the candidates who did not win the leadership, but had extensive campaign debt to repay. Unfortunately, it looks like that story may repeat itself with the Liberals.

When a leadership election occurs, afterwards is a great opportunity to reach out and connect with the numerous new people who have just started paying attention to your Party. It is a time to entrench support, not to push people away. I understand that it is also a good time to get donations, which is why I don't object that Justin's first email is one asking for donations. However I do object to this email from Deborah Coyne:
I am currently working to retire my campaign debt. I have run a frugal campaign with minimal expenses, and have only to repay the Liberal Party's entry fee. A donation of $20, or whatever you can afford to give, would be of great assistance, and much appreciated.

I look forward to serving Canadians and to seeking a nomination to run in a riding for the next election. And I will continue to be a voice in our party for the principles and vision I have resolutely stood for in this campaign.
 The Liberal party took the (good ) step of limiting the amount of debt that can be carried by a candidate to $75,000 dollars after past embarrassments (like Martha Hall Findlay not paying off her 2006 leadership debts until October of 2012, in the middle of another campaign). The $75,000 dollar figure represents the same as the entry fee for the race, the amount the candidates have to pay to the Liberal party to be able to run. It is still a very large amount of money considering that the runner up Joyce Murray raised perhaps a quarter million and she did much better than Deborah Coyne who received less than 1% of the vote.

If we are going to accept the principle that campaigns can go into debt that takes years to pay off, at the very least we should insist that the Liberal party mailing list can not become a proxy for paying it off. It is up to them, and if begging for money is going to hurt a candidate it hurts just them and their own mailing list of supporters, and not the broader party. Hopefully it will not become as bad as it was for the NDP, because they are squandering a precious opportunity to connect with new Liberals.

Update: Thankfully, emails from Martin Cauchon and Joyce Murray were appropriately congratulatory and about coming together as a party. Joyce Murray had a small PS for donating for her campaign debt, but it gave a significantly different tone than Deborah Coyne's.

Update 2: Karen McCrimmon also sent out an email asking for donation and apparently is going to have to work very hard to pay it off. Again, this is from someone who received less than 1% of the vote.
If you thought I contributed to making this a campaign of which we all can be proud and if you want to help me become an MP in the next election, please make a donation to the campaign as I won't be able to concentrate on my next challenge until I have completed this one!

This fall I plan to travel from coast to coast to coast to continue the work of rebuilding and retiring my campaign debt. Please contact me at ***** if your riding, club or commission is interested in hosting an event.

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