Manitoba elections commissioner says Tory leadership fundraiser did not violate rules

WINNIPEG — Manitoba's commissioner of elections has rejected a complaint about fundraising done by former Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Shelly Glover.

Bill Bowles has ruled that Glover's online fundraising for a legal challenge did not violate election financing rules.

Glover lost her leadership bid to Heather Stefanson in a close race in the fall of 2021, and appealed the results in court.

Glover raised about $45,000 through an online fundraising effort for the legal challenge, which was unsuccessful.

Darren Penner, a longtime Progressive Conservative party member, filed a complaint with the elections commissioner, alleging that Glover's online fundraising should be subject to donation limits and other rules that govern leadership campaigns.

Bowles has rejected the argument and has ruled that donations for a legal challenge are not subject to the leadership rules.

"If it were otherwise, the practical effect would be to make it virtually impossible for candidates to challenge a leadership contest result," Bowles wrote in a letter to Penner, released Tuesday.

"Your letter raised concerns about a lack of transparency if the donations made for the litigation were not reported and so not made public. Even if those concerns are legitimate ones, the (Election Financing Act) simply doesn’t make provision for legal proceedings arising from a leadership contest, and Elections Manitoba therefore has no authority to require disclosure of donations related to such litigation."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 3, 2023

The Canadian Press