Politics

Liberal Party triggers 'electoral urgency' clause to speed up nominating candidates

The Liberal Party's national campaign co-chairs have declared a "state of electoral urgency," a procedural move that will allow the party to speed up the nomination processes for local candidates ahead of the next federal election.

Move is the latest sign that the parties are preparing for a possible fall election

Suzanne Cowan, president of the Liberal Party of Canada, introduces Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a donor appreciation event in Toronto on Nov. 6, 2018. A spokesperson for the party said the Liberals are committed to recruiting candidates 'from traditionally unrepresented perspectives and communities.' (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

The Liberal Party's national campaign co-chairs have declared a "state of electoral urgency," a procedural move that will allow the party to speed up the nomination processes for local candidates ahead of the next federal election.

It's the latest sign that the federal parties are preparing for a possible fall election. The Conservative Party is prepared to invoke a similar measure if an election is called to get many more would-be MPs nominated on a faster timeline.

MPs also unanimously agreed last night to hold a "take-note debate" in the House of Commons on June 15 to allow members who aren't running again to "make their farewell speech."

In a message to some senior members of the party Thursday, the Liberal co-chairs — Economic Development Minister Melanie Joly and former cabinet minister Navdeep Bains — said they are invoking rule 18 of the national rules for the selection of candidates as of today "in all remaining ridings" that have yet to nominate a candidate.

CBC News has seen a copy of the message that was sent to national and provincial and territorial party leaders and organizers.

Under that rule, the two can "alter the timelines and procedures ... in such a manner as they, in their sole and unfettered discretion, may see fit," to get a local Liberal candidate in place.

Liberals not pushing for election, spokesperson says

As of today, the party has nominated just 162 candidates out of the possible 338 ridings, which means there are many more candidates to recruit and nominate in the months ahead of a possible fall election.

In statement, a spokesperson for the party, Braeden Caley, said the "electoral urgency" clause is a "longstanding administrative measure in our party's processes that gives the ability to shift timelines and procedures in the national nomination rules in order to nominate more candidates, more quickly in the months ahead."

Caley said the party is not pushing for an election but rather preparing for the possibility that the minority government could fall at any time.

"The Liberal team remains resolutely focused on doing everything it takes to keep Canadians safe and supported — and that will continue to be the case," he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly said "nobody wants an election before the end of this pandemic."

While the party has fewer than half of its 338 possible candidates nominated so far, Caley said the party is routinely "approached by a whole host of talented community leaders interested in running as Liberal candidates."

Caley said the party is committed to recruiting candidates "from traditionally unrepresented perspectives and communities," including LGBT, women, Black, Indigenous, and people of colour candidates.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Paul Tasker

Parliamentary Bureau

John Paul (J.P.) Tasker is a reporter in the CBC's Parliamentary bureau in Ottawa. He can be reached at john.tasker@cbc.ca.

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