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A Green Party sign sits at the foot of a podium in Vancouver on March 30, 2011, before leader Elizabeth May discusses her exclusion from the televised election debates. (ANDY CLARK/REUTERS)
A Green Party sign sits at the foot of a podium in Vancouver on March 30, 2011, before leader Elizabeth May discusses her exclusion from the televised election debates. (ANDY CLARK/REUTERS)

B.C. Riding

Elections Canada allows Greens to give per-vote stipend to B.C. rape crisis centre Add to ...

The Green Party can give the money they received from Ottawa as a per-vote subsidy to a rape crisis centre if they wish, Elections Canada confirmed Tuesday.

"It's up to the party's constitution, how they spend the money," Diane Benson said in an interview.

The expenses must be reported in their annual financial-transaction return to Elections Canada, she added.

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The Green Party's council decided on Sunday to claim the public subsidy for Alan Saldanha, a candidate in British Columbia who withdrew days before the May 2 election, but to donate a portion of the subsidy to a rape crisis centre.

Mr. Saldanha, the Green Party of Canada candidate in the B.C. riding of Fleetwood-Port Kells, stepped down after controversial remarks posted on his Facebook page were reported by a local newspaper, the Surrey North Delta Leader. The posting stated that his favourite quote was "if rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it."

However Mr. Saldanha withdrew after his nomination had been accepted by Elections Canada and his name was still on the ballot. He received 1,476 votes. Under the current formula, the Green Party would be entitled to $2,952 every year until the next election.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper campaigned in the recent federal election on abolishing the per-vote subsidies that political parties currently receive and is expected to move quickly on the issue once Parliament opens in June.

Debra Eindiguer, press secretary to federal leader Elizabeth May, said the party's council decided the Greens were entitled to the money, even though they did not have a candidate in the race,

"Some people vote Green knowing they are not going to elect an MP but that there will be some financial assistance given to the party to help them with their future efforts," Ms. Eindiguer said.

"In order to respect those voters, the Green Party has decided we will keep the money," she said.

However the party will not keep all the money. The party's council also decided to give a $1,000 donation to a rape crisis centre in the riding, Ms. Eindiguer said.

The party wants to acknowledge the situation but without showing any disrespect to the choice of those who voted Green. "We're basically trying to satisfy everyone," Ms. Eindiguer said.

Party officials were not certain on Monday whether they could make a charitable contribution with public funds they receive as a per-vote subsidy. They were waiting to hear from Elections Canada on whether the donation was acceptable.

Conservative Nina Grewal, who won in Fleetwood-Port Kells with 23,950 votes, did not respond Monday to a request for an interview on her views on whether the Green Party in her riding should receive the public per-vote subsidy.

The subsidies, introduced in 2004, were intended to eliminate corporate and union donations. Mr. Harper has maintained the public subsidies were fuelling constant campaigning.

The federal government currently pays an annual allowance for candidates that receive at least 2 per cent of the number of valid votes or 5 per cent of the number of valid votes cast in the electoral districts in which the registered party endorsed a candidate. Mr. Saldanha received 2.9 per cent of the votes cast in the riding.

In 2009, the Green Party received $1.9-million in public funding based on the per-vote formula. The Conservative Party received $10.4-million; the Liberals, $7.2-million; NDP, $5-million.; and the Bloc Québécois, $2.7-million.

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