Prov­ince moves to ban big money from recall cam­paigns

Asian Journal - - FRONT PAGE -

Vic­to­ria: The B.C. gov­ern­ment has in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion in or­der to make cam­paigns to recall mem­bers of the leg­isla­tive assembly (MLAS) more fair by ban­ning cor­po­rate and union do­na­tions, as well as re­strict­ing ad­ver­tis­ing rules.

“Recall cam­paigns have the po­ten­tial of re­mov­ing peo­ple from elected of­fice, and it’s only fair that the rules for elec­tions ap­ply to recall cam­paigns as well,” said David Eby, At­tor­ney Gen­eral. “Fol­low­ing the changes our gov­ern­ment made last year, this leg­is­la­tion will en­sure that we re­move the in­flu­ence of big money for those in favour and op­posed to a recall of an MLA.” Un­der the Recall and Ini­tia­tive Act, when a recall pe­ti­tion is is­sued by the chief elec­toral of­fi­cer, the voter be­comes the pro­po­nent of the recall pe­ti­tion and has up to 60 days to gather sig­na­tures and sub­mit the pe­ti­tion for ver­i­fi­ca­tion.

Cur­rently, there are no re­stric­tions on who may con­trib­ute to the recall pro­po­nents, MLAS or third-party ad­ver­tis­ing spon­sors, or how much they may con­trib­ute. Third-party ad­ver­tis­ing spon­sors have no spend­ing lim­its dur­ing a pe­ti­tion pe­riod, but recall pro­po­nents and MLAS do.

The Recall and Ini­tia­tive Amend­ment Act 2018 ad­dresses these prob­lems by align­ing financing rules for recall cam­paigns with the Elec­tion Act. The pro­posed changes to the Recall and Ini­tia­tive Act in­clude:

• ban­ning cor­po­rate and union con­tri­bu­tions; • lim­it­ing in­di­vid­ual Bri­tish Columbians to con­tribut­ing $1,200 per year to a pe­ti­tion pro­po­nent, an MLA sub­ject to a pe­ti­tion, or to any one third-party ad­ver­tis­ing spon­sor; and

• cre­at­ing a spend­ing limit of $5,000 for third-party ad­ver­tis­ers dur­ing a recall pe­ti­tion pe­riod.

The $1,200 an­nual limit will ap­ply to po­lit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions made to the MLA, the MLA’S po­lit­i­cal party or con­stituency as­so­ci­a­tion dur­ing an elec­tion. This means that in­di­vid­u­als can­not give more than $1,200 an­nu­ally for any com­bi­na­tion of recall and po­lit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions. The pro­posed amend­ments also pro­hibit con­cur­rent recall pe­ti­tions in a sin­gle elec­toral dis­trict, mean­ing that only one pe­ti­tion can be cir­cu­lat­ing in a dis­trict at any given time.

Ap­ply­ing for a recall pe­ti­tion in the six months im­me­di­ately be­fore gen­eral vot­ing day for a sched­uled gen­eral elec­tion would also be pro­hib­ited.

Quick Facts:

• No other Cana­dian ju­ris­dic­tion pro­vides a leg­isla­tive frame­work for vot­ers to re­move an elected mem­ber from of­fice. In B.C., suc­cess­ful pe­ti­tions re­sult in the im­me­di­ate re­moval of an MLA from of­fice. • A recall pe­ti­tion can­not be ini­ti­ated un­til at least 18 months af­ter an MLA is elected.

• Nov. 13, would be the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity to ap­ply to recall an MLA elected in the May 9, 2017, pro­vin­cial gen­eral elec­tion.

David Eby At­tor­ney Gen­eral

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