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.

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

Just Posted

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

Indigenous LNG supporters chide human rights advocates over pipeline comments

Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with 20 elected First Nation councils along the pipeline’s 670-kilometre path

Burns Lake splash park one step closer to reality

Outdoor ice rink currently not included in the project

One day hockey tournament in Burns Lake

Burns Lake hosted a initiation one day hockey tournament on Jan. 18.… Continue reading

Women take centre stage at NHL all-star skills competition

Canada beat the United States 2-1 in a spirited 3-on-3 game between female players Friday night

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Coastal GasLink work camp in Vanderhoof gets approved by the ALC

The work camp behind the Vanderhoof airport was first rejected by the commission in October last year

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

B.C.’s oldest practising lawyer celebrates 100th birthday, shares advice

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

Most Read