Failed Liberal leadership candidates in pickle

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Hall of Fame puck stopper Ken Dryden has joined three other failed 2006 Liberal leadership candidates who have run afoul of the Elections Canada Act and could face fines or jail.

The foursome — including Hedy Fry, Joe Volpe and Martha Hall Findlay — is in hot water for not repaying hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses incurred during the leadership race won by Stephane Dion.

All four had been given court-approved two-year extensions to clean the slate after failing to comply with the 18 months allowed under the Canada Elections Act and another lengthy extension granted by the chief electoral officer. The court reprieve expired Dec. 31 for Fry, Volpe and Hall Findlay.

Dryden’s expired last week — around the time Ontario Superior Court Judge Timothy Ray rejected a new extension for his former leadership rivals.

Dryden declined an interview request.

The former cabinet minister could apply for another extension, but it’s unlikely a court would agree based on Ray’s ruling. The six-time Stanley Cup champion was on the hook for $360,000, according to Dec. 31 filings with Elections Canada.

Fry owed $69,000, Volpe $110,000 and Hall Findlay $115,000. Hall Findlay says she has whittled down her debt to $50,000 this year.

Ray accepted the Elections Canada argument the trio has no credible plan to pay the unpaid expenses based on their fundraising efforts and that the issue "could go on forever" if a further extension was granted.

During the two years leading up to Dec. 31, Fry raised $9,500, Hall Findlay $15,260 and Volpe $30,000.

All four could face fines of up to $1,000 or three months in jail. The matter is in the hands of the commissioner of Elections Canada.

A spokesman for the agency couldn’t answer whether a fine would free a candidate from ever having to pay back the money.