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. 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

BC CDC mapping for the week ending April 4, shows a sharp decrease in COVID-19 cases to 27 in Prince Rupert down 45 from the week prior. (Image: BCCDC)
Sharp decline in Prince Rupert COVID-19 cases

Prince Rupert lab-confirmed cases are down 62.5 per cent in one week

Blair Mirau, Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society CEO, is seen in a hydroponic greenhouse the society purchased in 2020 to promote food stability and local supply. (Photo: supplied)
Three P.R. organizations partner to develop food distribution network

$167,000 grant awarded to GSN, PRDCC and Ecotrust Canada to strengthen food supply chains

Food security and local production were topics at the April 12 public hearing to discuss new zoning bylaws and new OCP bylaws in Prince Rupert. A shipping container-style hydroponic growing unit in Whitehorse on July 26, 2020 is similar to one purchased by the Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society for local food production. (Photo: Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Food security and local production were growing concerns at city held public hearing

No provision in new zoning bylaws and new OCP for urban agriculture zones in Prince Rupert

Members of Prince Rupert Rotary Club gave back to their community on April 15 by providing a facelift to the city's gateway at McClymont Park. (Photo: K-J Millar)
Acts of Kindness Day being honoured in Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert Rotary Club is encouraging acts of kindness all week long

A ball balances on the rim. New basketball court surfaces and nets will be installed as part of the McBride Street Multi-sport Court Redevelopment project to which Pembina donated $20,000. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Nothing but net for $20,000 Pembina donation

McBride Street multi-sport court redevelopment project in the planning

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Most Read