By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Another clash has erupted in the battle over the leadership of Manitoba’s governing Progressive Conservatives.
A longtime party member has filed a complaint with the provincial elections commissioner, alleging that losing candidate Shelly Glover is not following financing rules in her legal challenge of the result that saw Heather Stefanson take over as Tory leader and premier.
Glover denies the accusation, which she calls “fiction,” and says she acted on advice from Elections Manitoba.
Glover lost the leadership vote in a close race, garnering 49 per cent of the vote to Stefanson’s 51 per cent on Oct. 30. She is asking the Court of Queen’s Bench to toss out the results and order a new vote, alleging there were irregularities in the way the ballots were counted and kept secure.
Glover launched an online fundraising effort to help pay for her legal challenge, and has so far raised close to $42,000.
Darren Penner, a party member who at one time supported Glover’s campaign, alleges the online fundraising effort is not following some of the rules for leadership contests, such as a $3,000 limit on donations and a requirement that money only be taken from Manitoba residents. The online fundraiser lists many anonymous donations and at least one donation of $5,000.
Penner points out the leadership contest period under elections law continues to run for two months after the race is decided.
He also alleges that, alternatively, if the fundraising for the legal challenge is not deemed part of the leadership contest, Glover should not be allowed to use the logos or list of supporters from her campaign.
“If the (online fundraising) is not related to the campaign, then the campaign logos and supporter list cannot be used to solicit donations, as they are property of the campaign, not Shelly Glover personally,” Penner wrote in his letter.
Glover said Monday she had not received a copy of Penner’s letter. She said both grounds for the complaint are baseless. She sought advice from Elections Manitoba before launching the online fundraiser, she said.
“I wanted to get those answers, to make sure I am following the rules,” Glover said.
Glover provided a Nov. 18 letter from Debbie MacKenzie, the deputy chief electoral officer at Elections Manitoba. The letter says based on the information the agency had available at the time, funds raised after a leadership race for a legal challenge would not be considered donations or contributions under the Election Financing Act, and would therefore not be subject to the law’s limits.
Glover also said there is no rule against continuing to use the logo from her leadership campaign. She said the email list she is using to solicit donations for her legal challenge is not from her campaign, but a compilation of people who have supported her since she entered politics over a decade ago.
Elections commissioner Bill Bowles would not comment on the complaint Monday. He does not publicly comment on complaints or investigations as a rule.