B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks to local politicians at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler, Sept. 14, 2018. (UBCM)

B.C.’s new municipal election finance laws getting their first test

Vancouver shows loopholes for early spending, union support

B.C.’s first test of its new local election laws is revealing “gaps” that may have to be addressed after communities cast their ballots for council and school board on Oct. 20, Premier John Horgan says.

Spending caps designed to get “big money” from developers and unions out of urban campaigns have shown financial leaks that were forecast when the NDP government put them in place this spring.

The most obvious ones have been in Vancouver, where unlimited pre-campaign spending allowed developer Peter Wall to spend more than $80,000 on billboards endorsing mayoral candidate Hector Bremner’s housing plan.

Mayoral rival and former NDP MP Kennedy Stewart’s campaign has attracted criticism for support from the local labour council, but Kennedy campaign manager Neil Monckton said campaign staff are not paid by union funds and the labour council is independently endorsing more than 20 candidates in Vancouver area elections.

“We’re going to look at the consequences of any violations of the existing act, or any gaps that may be there that have been exploited by some, whether it be billboards or employees in kind,” Horgan said. “But we’ll look at that after the campaign is concluded and make any adjustments to the legislation that we believe are appropriate.”

Horgan said he’ll avoid the example of Ontario Premier Doug Ford, trying to change the rules in the middle of a municipal election campaign.

In B.C., new rules ban corporate and union money donations, and cap individual spending at $1,200 for individual donations. Candidates have to record their donations starting Jan. 1 of the election year, but spending limits didn’t take effect until the official campaign period began until Sept. 22. The billboard spending doesn’t count against the Bremner’s spending cap.

Support of in-kind staff has been controversial at the federal and provincial level, as well as in municipal votes. Last spring, B.C. Liberal MLA Todd Stone used a private members’ bill to push for a change to the new NDP law that allowed municipal party administration costs to be omitted from the corporate-union ban between votes.

RELATED: Municipal loophole will be fixed, Horgan vows

B.C. VIEWS: Banning union donations not as easy as it looks

Elections B.C. has set spending caps for each B.C. municipality, based on size, covering the 28-day official campaign that ends on election day Oct. 20. For smaller B.C. communities such as Revelstoke and Hope, mayoral candidates have a limit of $10,000 to run for mayor and $5,000 for a council seat.

Abbotsford’s urban population means a mayoral candidate’s spending is limited to $86,556.10, while council candidates may spend up to $43,928,56.

Outside urban areas, the $1,200 cap on personal donations is a problem because it applies to the candidates funding their own campaigns. Depending on signs and local advertising, most municipal candidates don’t have any significant fundraising.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Local First Nations pro-active in dealing with COVID-19

“We are in it for the long haul.”

COLUMN: Gardening is balm for your soul

Some expert tips to help build your green-thumb this year

COVID-19: Stepping away from the ordinary

Freelance writer Marcie Callewaert talks about her self-isolation in Ahousaht

Tofino-Ucluelet choir conductor launches singing contest

“What motivates me is making my community happy.”

Vancouver Island farmers demand on-site slaughter

COVID-19 pandemic puts supply chains at risk, says group

‘We don’t need this right now’: B.C. man breaks up road rage incident

Two men were throwing punches on Tillicum Road in Saanich on Vancouver Island

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

COVID-19 has been impacting Canadian economy since January

But full effects of pandemic won’t be known for months

Doctors trained abroad want to join front lines of COVID-19 fight in Canada

B.C. is looking to allow internationally trained doctors to work under the supervision of attending physicians

Fake test kits and other COVID online scams play on public anxiety: fraud centre

Vancouver has seen a spike in commercial property crimes, with offices and stores empty because of COVID-19

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Feds amplify stay-home message as cost of financial aid to Canadians mounts

Liberals have unveiled around $200B in direct financial aid and tax deferrals

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Most Read