John McDonald feels cheated out of his right to run as a candidate in the provincial election, scheduled for Oct. 24.
McDonald said he started campaigning as an independent candidate in the Cowichan Valley riding months before the election was called in September, but Elections BC denied his application when he recently went to file it before the deadline on Oct. 2.
He said a clause in the BC Elections Act states that all candidates in provincial elections are required to appoint an auditor, even if the candidates don’t intend to spend nearly as much on their campaigns as those running for established parties with deeper pockets.
According to the legislation, an audit of candidates is required after the election if the value of political contributions or election expenses reported is $10,000 or more.
Audits are not required for those who spend less than $10,000, unless requested by the Chief Electoral Officer, but all are required to appoint an auditor on their applications regardless.
“I intended to run as an independent candidate and I wasn’t planning to take money from anyone,” said McDonald, who unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the Cowichan Valley school district’s board of trustees in the last municipal elections.
“I have just $863 for all my expenses. I checked with many auditors, chartered accountants and other professionals in the Valley and none would sign my application form because they said it wasn’t necessary, with some saying it would likely cost between $10,000 and $15,000 for me to have an audit done.”
Andrew Watson, the communications director for Elections BC, acknowledged that all candidate applications for the provincial election are required to appoint an auditor under the B.C. Elections Act, even if their campaign contributions and expenses are low.
He said the clause in the legislation has been in place for at least the last several provincial elections.
“I have never heard of a situation where a candidate had problems finding someone to sign their application papers like this, and we do have 24 other independent candidates who filed their papers by the deadline on Oct. 2 with no similar problems,” Watson said.
“We usually ask candidates to file their papers early so issues like this can be discovered and there is still time to come up with a plan to deal with it. We do what we can to support candidates, and do our best to make them aware of all the requirements of the legislation.”