Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)

B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

There was a rare display of non-partisan agreement at the B.C. legislature Thursday as debate began on bringing municipal election finance rules into line with provincial restrictions on fundraising and campaigns.

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne, who was mayor of Tofino until the October election, said the changes are mainly based on 2018 recommendations of B.C.’s Chief Electoral Officer. They include extending the official campaign period for local elections from 29 to 89 days, restricting third-party donations and preventing local political slates from accepting money for operating expenses between elections.

“This new framework will result in elector organizations being treated more like provincial political parties under the Election Act, but continues to accommodate the elements that make local elections unique from provincial elections,” Osborne told the legislature March 4. “Changes to the rules governing election advertising will enhance the transparency of advertising by making it clear who is sponsoring advertising during the pre-campaign period.

“The types of activities that are captured as election advertising will be clarified. This will ensure that paid canvassing activities, such as door-to-door canvassing or canvassing by telephone and mailing election materials on a commercial basis, will be subject to election advertising rules.”

RELATED: B.C. political parties reap millions from subsidies

RELATED: Horgan vows to stop local corporate, union donations

B.C. Liberal MLA Dan Ashton, a former mayor of Penticton, said he expects his fellow opposition members to support the legislation after detailed discussion. He said the inclusion of paid canvassers as a registered advertising expense and the a $1,200 cap for third parties donating are overdue reforms. He expects more debate on a change that allows campaigning politicians and canvassers into strata condo units.

“It provides Elections B.C. with additional penalties to fine people who do not comply with the rules and the process, and it also removes the 30-day local residency requirement in order to vote, as that has pros and cons,” Ashton said.

“It allows access for strata properties and other properties for canvassing. I look upon my peers that are from the Lower Mainland and look at all those large towers inhabited by residents and wonder how they have the opportunity to be able to show those residents what they want to do for them. That’s a difficult process, and I hope that that also comes into consideration in the future.”

Jinny Sims, NDP MLA for Surrey Panorama, welcomed new restrictions on “pseudo-parties that operate as electoral organizations” in civic elections. Osborne noted that election slates or municipal parties are mainly a Lower Mainland phenomenon now, but with technology and advertising changing quickly, the province needs to be ready to regulate elections for councils, school boards and regional districts.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politics

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

Just Posted

City of Duncan considering an average 3.51 per cent tax increase for 2021. (File photo)
Duncan considers average 3.51% tax increase for 2021

Homeowners would see a $43 increase over last year

North Cowichan councillor Kate Marsh. (File photo)
North Cowichan postpones decision on cell tower placement

But cell tower policy may be developed soon

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks at a press conference Monday, April 18. (B.C. Government image)
New COVID-19 cases tick down on the central Island

New cases held to single digits three days in a row

CVRD offices on Ingram Street will remain closed for another 14 weeks after flooding last month. (File photo)
CVRD headquarters closed for another three and a half months

Building significantly damaged during water leak

Victoria police are asking for help locating high-risk missing man Derek Whittaker, last seen in Victoria April 12. (Courtesy of VicPD)
MISSING: Police searching for Derek Whittaker, last seen in Victoria

Whittaker believed to be driving 1994 red Volkswagen Golf

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

Club Phoenix Fitness in Langford is the first Island business to be ordered closed by the provincial workplace closure order put into effect April 11. It will be closed until at least April 29. (Google Streetview/Screenshot)
Langford gym first Island business to be closed by public health order

Workplace closure order can now close businesses with three or more COVID-19 cases

Police executed a search warrant at the Devils Army Clubhouse on Petersen road in Campbell River on August 10, 2017.
Murder trial into 2016 Campbell River killing underway in Victoria

Ricky Alexander is charged with the first-degree murder of John Dillon Brown

..
Abbotsford nurse at ‘breaking point’ pleads with public to take COVID-19 seriously

Instagram post urges general population to stay home, wear a mask and get vaccinated

Alex Mah of Chemainus spends a sunny day at Kin Beach reading to daughter Beatrice Mah. 3. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Vancouver Island’s mini-summer poised to fade

Cooler and damper this weekend, summer-like conditions not likely to return until late June

A native-to-B.C. wild queen bee (bombus melanopygus for those in the know) feeds on a periwinkle flower. (Submitted/Sarah Johnson, Native Bee Society of BC)
B.C.’s wild bees need messy gardens to survive

The year-long nesting period makes habitat a primary concern for wild bees

Nanaimo Fire Rescue investigator Mark Jonah probes the scene of a blaze that destroyed two apartments on Sunday, April 18. The cause of the blaze has not been determined. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Arson suspect arrested after apartment fire in Nanaimo

35-year-old man arrested for allegedly starting fire lived in the complex

A wildfire has started near Gold River, and B.C. Wildfire Service crews are on scene. Photo courtesy Coastal Fire Centre
Small wildfire burning in difficult terrain near Gold River

Coastal Fire Centre investigating, but confirms blaze is human-caused

Most Read