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

Several Abbotsford schools record COVID-19 exposures in October

Two secondary schools, one middle school and two elementary schools have virus exposure

Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival cancelled – for good

Organizers say the event was so popular that too many people were attending to be sustainable

Bateman’s Olafsen commits to Windsor Lancers football program

Timberwolves all-star heading to Ontario in 2021, moving from defence to offence

Apartment fire on Sunday displaces 82 Mission residents

Extensive damage to fifth floor, fire not considered suspicious at this time

FVRD to reopen corporate office on a limited basis

Fraser Valley Regional District visitors will be screened and asked to maintain physical distancing

‘First guys out:’ Western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

Police watchdog concludes Mounties didn’t shoot Surrey teen at strip mall

IIO finds tragic death of teenager ‘not the result of any actions or inactions’ by the Surrey RCMP

Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Trial dates set in White Rock manslaughter case

Proceedings against Ross Banner, 71, set for June 2021 in Surrey Provincial Court

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Glasgow found not guilty of trying to murder transit cop in Surrey

Transit Police Constable Josh Harms was shot Jan. 30, 2019 at Scott Road SkyTrain Station

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Most Read