The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.

Pity the Naked Candidate

If you want to run for office, get ready for heavy vetting.

By Andrew MacLeod 30 Mar 2009 |

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. You can reach him here.

image atom
'You have no secrets.'

Officials with the provincial NDP and Liberal Parties are well aware that if they fail to vet their candidates thoroughly, their opponents will do it for them.

"My assumption is the Liberals have a team of people sequestered in some basement," said Jeff Fox, president of the NDP, talking about how he approaches checking out candidates.

With the election set for May 12, but not yet officially called, already the party's vetting processes are getting tested. Twice last week the Liberals raised old quotes to embarrass NDP candidates, and the Liberals earlier lost a candidate after details of his history emerged.

The NDP in particular had a reminder of the importance of background checks in the federal election when they lost three candidates, including Dana Larsen who was recorded on video driving while stoned.

Last week Mable Elmore was chosen as the NDP candidate for the provincial election in Vancouver-Kensington at a nomination meeting. The day after the meeting a five-year-old interview emerged where she referred to battling "vocal Zionists" in the bus drivers' union.

While there are those who will defend Elmore's use of the word, normally understood to refer to someone who believes Israel should exist as a Jewish state, NDP leader Carole James is not one of them.

"The party informed me this morning they had talked to our candidate and she's issued an apology," she said. "I'm satisfied with the apology. She should have known, yes. Were the comments offensive, yes." James added she was angry the apology wasn't issued sooner.

More substantial process

James being apparently blindsided by the issue raised questions about the NDP's vetting process. Asked how much confidence she had in the process, she said, "I'll be talking to the party about that."

There is a process in place, she said. "People talk about the kinds of things they've been involved in, the experience they've been involved in and you can talk to the party about other specifics." She believes the party does an Internet search for potentially embarrassing subjects, she said.

"Coming out of the federal election we understood we needed a more substantial process," said NDP president Fox.

Candidates fill out a long questionnaire covering things like where they live, what they own, their financial history and any potential criminal matters. "It's almost a small book," he said. The party then goes about verifying what the candidate has told them.

Liberals burned in Okanagan

The Liberal Party goes through a "pretty thorough" process too, said B.C. Liberal communications director Chad Peterson. People apply for a nomination and complete an "exhaustive" questionnaire before the party's election readiness committee can approve them.

The questionnaire looks at their personal and professional background, he said, "Just so we're all on the same page on where they come from."

The party did have one candidate, Joe Cardoso, whose candidacy in Okanagan-Similkameen was rescinded after it was discovered he'd written a letter to a newspaper that was critical of Liberal leader Gordon Campbell. He has since become the Conservative candidate in the constituency.

"He failed to disclose information that was pertinent on his candidate questionnaire," said Peterson.

"This candidate nomination process has been fairly smooth for us so far," he said. "I can say we hold our candidates to a very high calibre. That's something the public expects of us and something we expect of ourselves."

In the case of Elmore, the NDP's Fox said, the party should have addressed the issue ahead of the nomination meeting. "We were aware she had made comments, yes," he said. "We should have had greater sensitivity to that old quote."

Some people are offended by Elmore's use of the word "Zionist," he said. "It depends on the audience. Clearly there are some sensitivities attached to it or we wouldn't have had Monday [March 23] morning."

'You have no secrets'

"They vet you extremely," said Kathleen Stephany, the NDP candidate in Langley. "You have no secrets... They want to vet anything that could potentially be bad for you personally or for the party."

Stephany passed the vetting process, but that didn't inoculate her against attacks.

Liberal communications staff circulated an old Tyee story that included a quote Stephany denies having said. She claims the story incorrectly had her as saying she thinks abortions should not be paid for by the public. (The source of the quotes stands by them, the Tyee reported last week.)

"I have to admit I was really troubled by them shopping that story around," said Fox. "It was complete bullshit. They were attempting to discredit a sincere individual."

Stephany had acknowledged to the party that she had views on abortion that were not consistent with the party's position, he said, but her reasons for getting involved in politics do not include wanting to change abortion laws or funding.

"We are hoping to attract a diverse range of people," he said. That means people from many different walks of life, with a variety of views on various issues. "Quite frankly I'm damn proud of that."

The idea that every candidate has to mirror the leader is strange, he said. "I find that repugnant. If all we were interested in was attracting people who think exactly like us, I wouldn't vote for us. I mean, come on."

Related Tyee stories:


Read more: Politics

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll