By Phil Melnychuk
Have you posted a naughty picture of yourself on Flickr? Do you publish unfiltered thoughts on your blog? Rant on YouTube? Have legal troubles?
If you do, you probably won’t be running for federal office as a candidate for one of Canada’s major political parties.
All wannabe candidates go through an extensive vetting process, designed to shed those with baggage and problematic pasts.
Aspiring Liberal members of parliament are asked to fill out a lengthy form that includes questions such as: Have you been expelled from a university or cheated on an exam? Are you going through a divorce? Have you filed for bankruptcy or been in prison? Owe taxes?
The NDP’s “green-lighting” process is much the same and requires candidates to reveal anything they’ve written that has been published or widely distributed through the Internet — and just those tomes lie.
Craig Speirs and Elizabeth Rosenau, who are vying for a federal NDP nomination in the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission riding, welcome the scrutiny.
“Coming out of the gate as a candidate, you really need to be above reproach,” said Rosenau. “It is really important that when they choose a candidate, you don’t end up finding some terrible chapter in their life that’s being hidden.”
During the 2008 federal campaign, Chris Reid, a Conservative candidate in Toronto, was forced to resign after unsavoury posts were discovered on his personal blog.
NDP candidate and marijuana activist Dana Larsen also quit the 2008 federal campaign when old video footage surfaced showing him driving while under the influence of the narcotic.
Speirs is sure the NDP has examined his Facebook account and online posts.
“I’m sure lots of people have — on both sides of the fence,” he said, adding he wouldn’t mind handing over his passwords to party scrutinizers.
“I’m proud of everything I’ve done, so it’s easy.”
The Conservatives’ nomination documents ask applicants to fill out forms authorizing the Canada Revenue Agency, the Canada Border Services Agency, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Department of National Defence to release any available information through the Privacy Act to the party concerning any offences, infractions or pending matters.
They also require a certificate of conduct from local police vouching for their good behaviour.
Once the questionnaire is complete, conservative incumbent Randy Kamp said it’s followed by a mandatory interview with a party official.
Kamp believes it is important to know who is running for public office.
“It is good for the members to know that there is someone looking at the nominees, so that when they come to vote they know the person has passed some sort of scrutiny,” he added.