TORONTO — A woman who hopes to run for the Progressive Conservatives in the next Ontario election could be out of luck because she failed to file financial statements related to her 2014 bid for a Toronto council seat.
In a ruling, the Superior Court of Justice denied a request from Cozette Giannini to allow her to file the statements now so she can get out from under a penalty meted out for her failure.
Giannini, who ran unsuccessfully for a council seat, should have filed audited financial documents under the Municipal Elections Act by March 27 2015. When she failed to do so — in common with 101 of the 688 other Toronto candidates — she was put on the city's list of "candidates in default."
The sanction for being on the list is a ban on running for a municipal council seat in the next election, something Giannini said she had no plans to do.
However, in asking the courts to allow her to belatedly file her statements, she noted her wish to run for the Tories in an east Toronto riding in 2018. In an affidavit, Giannini said her plans could be scuttled if the nominating committee rejects her candidacy because of her status as one of the city's candidates in default.
Justice Sean Dunphy declined to grant what he called the "extraordinary" remedy she wanted.
"Rights seldom come without corresponding obligations," Dunphy wrote. "The right to present oneself to the people as a candidate for election carries with it the responsibility to make fair and timely disclosure of financial returns in the manner prescribed."
Under the rules, candidates are required to file audited financial statements if campaign contributions or expenses exceed $10,000. Despite several reminders from the city, Giannini failed to fulfil her obligations.
In her materials to Dunphy, she claimed among other things to have been unaware of the requirement for filing an audited financial report. The mother of two also said she had previously been unable to afford a lawyer to make a court application for a time extension — something she said she always intended to do — and had gone through a "difficult separation."
The judge, however, said Giannini's lack of diligence in complying with the act was "all the more flagrant" given that she ignored attempts by the city clerk's office to advise candidates of their obligations.
The provincial legislature put rules in place to make campaign financing transparent and to ensure any surplus contributions for which public subsidies have been provided are accounted for, Dunphy said.
"The fact that more than 100 candidates from the last election in Toronto alone are currently in default strongly suggests that great caution should be exercised in considering disturbing the scheme of the legislation in question," Dunphy wrote in his decision.
Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press