Fact Check: Debunking rumour Harper ineligible to run
Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen wave upon arrival in Val D'Or, Quebec on Tuesday April 19, 2011. (Frank Gunn / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Thursday, April 21, 2011 7:17AM EDT
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is eligible to be a candidate in the May 2 election and to seek the country's top political office again, despite the vote of no confidence and finding of contempt against his government by the House of Commons, despite rumours circulating to the contrary.
The Information Services at the Library of Parliament shoved aside the rumours and said the Conservative party leader was not targeted personally by either the vote of no confidence or the contempt of House finding that will send us to the polls on May 2.
It was his government. Not him.
"He was leader of the government when it fell, that has nothing to do with his eligibility," said a spokesperson for the Library. "The vote of no confidence and being in contempt of Parliament was against the government, not Mr. Harper personally."
There is precedence for the vote of no confidence situation. Paul Martin's Liberal government was toppled by a no-confidence vote in November 2005, forcing the January 2006 election.
The basic criteria for eligibility to run for Parliament: "To run for election, you must be 18 (years old) and a Canadian citizen."
And of course, it would be impossible to turn up for work in the House if you are a criminal who is serving a term of imprisonment of more than two-years-less a day – in other words incarcerated in a Federal Penitentiary - so that would make you ineligible.
"You couldn't apply to work at Loblaw's and be in prison. You would not be able to go to work," the spokesperson said.
But when you get out of prison, you can then run for Parliament. And if you are the leader of your political party, you can be invited by the Governor General, on behalf of The Queen, to become prime minister if your party wins.
An Elections Canada spokesperson said the Canada Elections Act does not directly address the question.
However, although the Act does not specifically address the question, Section 65 says the following persons are not eligible to be a candidate:
• (a) a person who is not qualified as an elector on the date on which his or her nomination paper is filed; (In other words, not 18 years old or a Canadian citizen at the time they hand it heir nomination papers)
• (b) a person who is disentitled under paragraph 502(3)(a) while they are so disentitled; (502(3)(a) reads 5. No person may (a) vote or attempt to vote at an election knowing that they are not qualified as an elector or not entitled to vote under section 4; or (b) induce another person to vote at an election knowing that the other person is not qualified as an elector or not entitled to vote under section 4.)
• (c) a member of the legislature of a province, the Council of the Northwest Territories or the Legislative Assembly of Yukon or Nunavut;
• (d) a sheriff, clerk of the peace or county Crown Attorney in any of the provinces;
• (e) a person who is not entitled under section 4 to vote; (Section 4 reads:. The following persons are not entitled to vote at an election: (a) the Chief Electoral Officer; (b) the Assistant Chief Electoral Officer; and (c) every person who is imprisoned in a correctional institution serving a sentence of two years or more.
• (f) a judge appointed by the Governor in Council, other than a citizenship judge appointed under the Citizenship Act;
• (g) a person who is imprisoned in a correctional institution;
• (h) an election officer; and
• (i) a person who was a candidate in a previous election and for whom a return, report, document or declaration has not been provided under subsection 451(1), if the time and any extension for providing it have expired.
Not being able to run for office is also a consequence of being caught committing illegal, corrupt practices laid out under 502 (3) (a) of the Act, which says:
Any person who is convicted of having committed an offence that is an illegal practice or a corrupt practice under this Act shall, in addition to any other punishment for that offence prescribed by this Act, in the case of an illegal practice, during the next five years or, in the case of a corrupt practice, during the next seven years, after the date of their being so convicted, not be entitled to:
(a) be elected to or sit in the House of Commons; or
(b) hold any office in the nomination of the Crown or of the Governor in Council.