Hale Reports On Suspended Memberships In NDP Leadership Race
"Stricter oversight by both the Dwain Lingenfelter campaign and the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party might have prevented the invalid sale of NDP memberships in the Meadow Lake constituency from going as far as it did, Robert Hale said today.
But Hale, a Swift Current lawyer who investigated the membership affair on behalf of the party, said the safeguards in place for the process caught the irregularities in a number of areas, and voting process for the June 6 Party Leadership was not put at risk.
“The (Dwain) Lingenfelter campaign did not direct, authorize or condone this activity,” Hale said. “However, their policies did allow this to proceed further than it should have. If they had taken more time to speak with (the local DLC volunteer) and perhaps to members of the Band offices prior to spending $10,000, this could have been stopped sooner.”
However, sufficient concerns about the amount and quality of the membership applications were raised by the Lingenfelter campaign, the Provincial Office staff, the Meadow Lake constituency, the Chief of one of the Bands involved, and the other three Leadership candidates, that the problem was resolved early enough to prevent any negative consequences.
Hale concluded that (the local DLC volunteer) acted alone, without the authority or approval of the Lingenfelter campaign. However, he said that even if the intent had been to control the election with these improper ballots, it would not have worked.
“For those who might claim that this was an attempt at some type of voting fraud, it is important to note that the address was the Band office,” Hale said. “While we do have enough information to question the integrity of the individual who presented these applications, it would be entirely inappropriate to question the integrity of the officials at the Bands.
“Band officials would have arranged for members to receive their mail. The most likely outcome is that many ballots would have gone in the trash because people were not expecting them or they would have been returned to sender because the address was incorrect.”
He rejected out-of-hand (the local DLC volunteer) explanation to the Lingenfelter campaign of why he acted as he did because such actions are acceptable in Aboriginal communities. He said his consultation with past candidates, volunteers, canvassers, local executives and other volunteers clearly indicated this was not the case.
Hale accepted and supported the philosophy which allows Party members to pay for the membership of others, but said this case indicates the Party needs to put in place tighterregulations on this practice.
Saskatchewan NDP Provincial Secretary Deb McDonald said the Party now considers the matter closed.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
“We are satisfied with the report and in due course will consider Mr. Hale’s recommendations about how this incident could be avoided in the future,” McDonald said. “At this time, however, the Party believes it is now time to move forward with letting the members decide who the next leader of the New Democratic Party of Saskatchewan will be.”
In addition, the $11,000 that was paid for the rejected memberships has been confiscated by the New Democratic Party and will be used to defray the costs of the Hale inquiry. Should the $11,000 not cover the full cost of the review, the Lingenfelter campaign must pay for the difference.
When the Hale Report news conference concluded, Dwain Lingenfelter was scrumed by the local media. One question, in particular, caught my attention:
-Reporter: Do you feel vindicated by the review?
-Lingenfelter: I felt vindicated when I wrote to the Party asking them to review me and my campaign.
I am monitoring the websites for all 4 candidates to see if there are any further statements on the Hale Report. I will post them as they appear:
-Statememt by Dwain Lingenfelter
-Statement by Ryan Meili