October 27, 2011
A provincial court judge ruled on Friday that all four Whistler candidates who had their nomination papers challenged by Whistler's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) could run in the municipal election.
Mayoral candidate Nancy Wilhelm-Morden and council candidates Jack Crompton, Steve Anderson and Steve Andrews found out on Tuesday, Oct. 18 - the final day for challenges - that the CEO was challenging their documents "to seek clarity on the completeness of the documentation."
The move followed some inquiries, one of which came from mayoral candidate Ralph Forsyth's campaign team.
Nick Davies told Pique that he wrote the email to the CEO, but was opposed to sending it. He said the letter did not mention specific candidates, but did mention Drew Meredith's name along with a legal analysis of whether a "free man" of Whistler is entitled to nominate candidates.
Forsyth took issue with Davies's position, stating that Davies wanted to mount a full legal challenge on Wilhelm Morden's forms.
"We said that is crazy," said Forsyth Wednesday. "I do not want my name in the paper associated with any challenge of anyone's papers.
"What he wanted to do was mount a legal challenge and the team said no. The team would allow him to send an email to the Chief Electoral Officer."
Earlier Forsyth told Pique: "I want to be 100 per cent, absolutely clear ... the challenge did not come from me. The challenge comes from the Chief Electoral Officer, and that is a fact." Forsyth added that his campaign was following a book on winning local elections, and that one of the "to do" items was to call the electoral office to ensure that all forms were in order.
"If people want to characterize me as a bad person for doing nothing wrong, then they can go ahead and do that," he said. "But that's not the campaign I'm running. I haven't slagged anyone, I've only presented the facts and I've been open and transparent about every single thing in my campaign. People who know me know I'm an honest person."
Davies has left Forsyth's campaign team over the issue.
For Wilhelm-Morden, the challenge was unprecedented.
"The lawyers at the hearing on Friday all said they couldn't find any cases in B.C. where this has ever happened before - not just in Whistler, but in B.C.," she said.
She was never in doubt that her forms and the forms of the other candidates would be accepted, but she called the challenge a waste of resources. She estimates that the challenge cost about $20,000 in legal bills for the municipality and lawyers representing her and Crompton - not to mention lost workdays and the shift in focus from her campaign. If the judge agrees, both she and Crompton may have their legal costs covered by the municipality.