After a meeting of the Liberal caucus in Montebello, Quebec, the party announced spending limits for the race, when the formal race will be held, and how the next leader will be chosen.
The rules were announced yesterday by Mike Crawley, president of the Liberal Party of Canada. The party has been without a leader since May 2011 when Michael Ignatieff stepped down. Ignatieff's resignation followed the May 2 federal election that saw the Conservatives win a majority government, the NDP become the official opposition with 102 seats, and the Liberals reduced to third place, winning only 34 seats. Since Ignatieff, who lost his own seat departed, Liberal MP Bob Rae has served as the party's interim leader.
All candidates for the top position will be subject to a spending limit of $950,000. This is substantially lower than the $3.4 million limit imposed during the 2006 race that saw Stephane Dion replace former Prime Minister Paul Martin.
Currently, the law provides individual contributors are limited to a campaign donation of $1,200. This again is substantially lower than in 2006 where individual supporters could donate up to $5,400. Crawley was quoted in the Toronto Star as saying, "It's much more difficult obviously, with these limits to raise money."
Every candidate will be subject to a debt limit of $75,000. The low limit will hopefully avoid the problem the Liberals incurred where four of the 2006 candidates; Joe Volpe, Martha Hall-Findlay, Ken Dryden, and Hedy Fry have still not repaid their leadership campaign debts. Fred Delorey, a spokesperson for the Conservative Party, is quoted in the Winnipeg Free Press as saying, "It's outrageous that nearly six years after the 2006 leadership campaign, four senior Liberals remain in violation of the law for refusing to pay back large loans."
Candidates will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of $75,000 to enter the race. Payable in three installments, the large sum is intended to discourage all but serious candidates who believe they have a realistic chance of winning.
The official leadership race begins in November and runs until April 14, 2013. Unlike previous races, there will be no leadership convention. Rather, people will vote during a two week period and on April 14, an "event" will be held in Ottawa where the next leader will be announced.
The party will be able to sign up eligible voters up to 41 days before the announcement of the winner. In addition to party members, the Liberal Party also has "supporters." As CBC reports, the party currently has 20,000 supporters; those who will be eligible to vote without having to become members of the Liberal Party of Canada.
Candidates expected to enter the race include Liberal MPs Justin Trudeau, Dominic LeBlanc, and Marc Garneau.