Liberals have more candidates to name than days left before election
Published Monday, August 12, 2019 4:52PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 13, 2019 10:17PM EDT
OTTAWA – The governing Liberals have nearly 100 candidates left to name with less than 70 days left before the next federal election.
As a result, the Liberal Party has triggered an "electoral urgency" clause within the party’s rules that allows the national campaign chair to have "unfettered discretion" to forgo the existing timelines and procedures in the usual nomination process. This could ultimately result in candidates being appointed in some of the outstanding ridings.
All known prospective candidates, riding association chairs and regional campaign chairs were notified in the outstanding ridings, according to the party.
In a statement to CTVNews.ca, Liberal Party spokesperson Braeden Caley said that it is a "longstanding" administrative measure that "always" comes into effect this close to an election "to help finalize the last few steps of the Liberal nominations process." It was triggered ahead of the 2015 election as well.
When asked what the reason is for the number of outstanding nominations, Caley noted the range of candidates the party has running for them, the party's green-lighting process, and pointed to the numerous nomination meetings scheduled over the next few weeks. The party currently has 242 nominated candidates.
A strict selection process could be to blame for the slower pace of Liberal nominations in the Liberal Party, who want “diversity and gender balance in their roster,” said senior vice president at Proof Strategies and former Liberal staffer Greg MacEachern. But that strategy has its disadvantages.
“You're looking for a payoff for the so-called perfect candidate. Somebody who brings the right pedigree, has name recognition. But if you wait too long, it does give your opponents the advantage,” he said.
As all parties have been gearing up for the coming October 21 vote, nominating candidates has been a key part of that process. Though, in the last month the Liberals -- who are headed into a campaign with the most incumbent MPs running again -- have only managed to confirm around 20 new candidates. As of a month ago, Caley said there were more than 500 people who had expressed interest in running in the 161 ridings not currently held by the Liberals.
The Liberals are not the only party with a long way to go when it comes to naming candidates; the NDP have more candidates left to name than the 149 already nominated.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh should be concerned about the speed of nominations, said former leader Tom Mulcair. “Mr. Singh should be worried that his candidates are going to have enough time to get known in their riding,” he told CTV News. “That’s the objective advantage that the Conservatives have given themselves.”
Similarly, the NDP have provisions in their nomination rules that allow them to speed up the nomination process if needed, should the party not have a full slate after the writ drops, which will have to happen sometime between Sept. 1 and Sept. 15, based on current election rules.
In contrast, the Conservative Party has nominated candidates in 331 of 338 ridings, while the Green Party has nominated 241 and the People's Party 312.
A slow nominating process could put a candidate at a disadvantage, particularly in a close race, noted former heritage minister James Moore. “The best time to start campaigning if you’re running for office is yesterday,” he said. “In the last election, there were 70 ridings that were decided by 5 per cent or less. There’s just only so much time on the clock in the course of a campaign.”