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Judge outlines reasons why nomination challenge defeated

Mayoral candidate concerned about long term impact of challenge

Allowing a recent challenge to the nomination papers of four candidates for Whistler's municipal election would have been choosing "form over substance."

This description is just part of the six-page written reasons released by B.C. Provincial Court Judge Carol Baird Ellan Nov.3.

The reasons outline why Baird Ellan dismissed a challenge to the nomination papers of Jack Crompton, Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, Steven Andrews and Steve Anderson by Whistler's Chief Electoral Officer, Lonny Miller.

"Respect for the electoral process demands that technical issues not defeat a qualified candidate nominated by competent nominators," wrote Baird Ellan, who had already given the go ahead for the candidates to continue their campaigns when they appeared in court Oct.22.

The reasons did not contain any awards of costs.

The issue ended up in court after Miller sought "direction" from the court on irregularities in the address information of the nominators on each of the candidates' forms.

Baird Ellan also noted that Miller asked for no clarification even though the candidates' nomination papers were in well before the deadline. The candidates' first opportunity to clarify it was in court.

The judge went on to say that Miller took no issue with the qualifications of the nominators. "He filed these applications as it was perceived that section 75 was the only mechanism by which he could fulfill his commitments under the Act."

On the addresses of the nominators being in the wrong place on the form Baird Ellan said: "The fact that they were in the wrong place on the form apparently provided by the municipality is a mere technicality."

The challenge to the papers by Miller was triggered by emails he received, at least one of which came from a former member of mayoral candidate Ralph Forsyth's campaign team.

"It was all a waste of time," said Wilhelm-Morden Wednesday.

She was also concerned about the long-term effect of challenging nominations in court.

"In three years time a lot of people are probably going to think long and hard before they put their names forward because if they can be challenged on a trivial technicality and incur thousands of dollars in legal costs that is going to have a chilling effect on people putting their names forward," said Wilhelm Morden.

"There already are a million reasons not to run for public office and now we've got one more."