Globe and Mail, Monday, January 9, 2006
Critic of Tory merger to take fight to top court
by Gloria Galloway
Ottawa – A veteran of the former Progressive
Conservative Party will ask the Supreme Court to
overturn a rejection of his bid to undo the amalgamation
that created the current Conservative Party.
Lawyers for Sinclair Stevens, a 78-year-old former
Tory cabinet minister, will file his appeal of a Federal
Court of Appeal ruling tomorrow.
That ruling found that Mr. Stevens's objections to
the merger on Dec. 6, 2003, were essentially correct and
that Chief Electoral Officer Jean Pierre Kingsley should
have waited 30 days after party members approved the
joining of the Progressive Conservatives with the former
Canadian Alliance to register the new party.
Instead, Mr. Kingsley acted just one day after the
delegates to a meeting of the Progressive Conservatives
voted more than 90 per cent in favour of the merger. But
because Mr. Kingsley was under no obligation to hear
submissions from affected parties such as Mr. Stevens,
and because he could not be an arbiter in internal party
disputes, the lower courts have ruled that the hasty
registration had no material effect.
The waiting period for registration is required
because no party can be registered within the 30 days
prior to an election call. In fact, no writ was dropped
for several months after the amalgamation but the law
says Mr. Kingsley should have delayed the registration
to ensure that was the case.
"We feel that there are very strong arguments that
the merger of the Conservative Party should have been
quashed," said Peter Rosenthal, a lawyer for Mr.
Stevens. "The issues involved are extremely important,
not only for this case and this generation but in future
to protect the rights of people who are in political
parties from having their parties extinguished in a
manner that contravenes the law."
The request for appeal will ask the Supreme Court to
consider whether it was proper for the federal appeal
court – and the Federal Court that first ruled in the
case – to let the merger continue even though the
registration was unlawful.
Mr. Stevens will also ask the Supreme Court to
consider his argument that the Canada Elections Act
requires that officers of the merging parties must be
notified before the merger is registered.