Liberals ease candidate nomination rules in case of snap election

OTTAWA — The Liberal party is readying itself for a possible federal election with new rules for nominating candidates.

Since the minority Liberal government could be defeated at any time — and the COVID-19 pandemic makes it harder to fundraise and recruit supporters –the rules are less onerous than they were in the run-up to the 2019 election.

Last time, sitting MPs had to meet a series of strict conditions to be acclaimed without having to face an open nomination contest.

That included knocking on 3,500 doors or making 5,000 phone calls, raising funds equivalent to half of their expected election expenses limit, recruiting at least 30 monthly donors and signing up at least 150 registered Liberals in their ridings.

This time, the party’s 154 sitting MPs can be acclaimed provided that they have recruited just 10 new monthly donors.

The party is also easing most of the conditions that will have to be met before a nomination contest can be held in a riding where there is no Liberal incumbent, except when it comes to attempts to increase diversity in the team of candidates.

Last time, Liberal associations in unheld ridings had to prove that they’d done a thorough search for women candidates. This time, they’ll have to document a search for women as well as individuals from other groups under-represented in Parliament, such as Black Canadians, people of colour, people with disabilities, Indigenous people and individuals from the LGBTQ2 community.

In addition, unheld ridings where the Liberals ran second in 2019 will need to have at least 150 registered Liberals in their districts. Those in which the Liberal candidate placed third or worse or was more than 20 percentage points behind the winner will need just 50 registered Liberals.

Those rules are considerably relaxed from those that applied for the 2019 election, when the Liberal association in an unheld riding had to have at least 15 per cent of the election expenses limit in its bank account, at least 150 registered Liberals in the riding and at least 15 new monthly donors.

Party spokesman Braeden Caley says all nomination contests will be conducted in accordance with public health guidance to keep all participants safe during the pandemic, including holding virtual nomination meetings where necessary.

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