Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits, Public consultations. Deadline: November 19, 2014

BC LegislatureBritish Columbians are invited to submit their ideas on how to implement elections expense limits for municipal elections.

Submissions can be made to the committee at a public hearing, via a questionnaire, or in in writing. Submissions will be accepted until November 19, 2014.

Further details are available on the website for the Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits.

Why is this so important? The influence of money from special interests is out of control in several Metro Vancouver municipalities. Typically, B.C. municipalities do not have political parties at the civic level. But some do. Developer and union money is a major factor in some municipalities. Vancouver, for example, has the most expensive civic elections in the Canada.

Currently there are no spending limits on political donations at the civic level in British Columbia. Any donation of any amount from any source in the universe may be accepted by politicians and political parties. CityHallWatch has a full list of shortcomings of the current legislation in an earlier post.

The next round of election finance reform, for the 2018 civic elections, will hopefully bring meaningful finance reform to civic elections in British Columbia. Please spread the word and get involved.

The upcoming dates for the Public Hearings are as follows:

Vancouver: Friday, November 7, 2014, 1:30pm – 5pm. (580 West Hastings)
Vancouver: Sunday, November 8, 2014, 9am to noon (580 West Hastings)

Victoria: Wednesday, November 5, 2014, 2:45 – 5pm (Parliament Bldgs, Room 226)
Victoria: Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 10am to noon (Parliament Bldgs, Room 226)

Both individuals and organizations can register to make presentations at the Public Hearing.

Further information on the Committee can be found in a press release.

We’ve reproduced the terms of reference for the Committee below:

On October 9, 2014, the Legislative Assembly agreed that a Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits be appointed to:

  1. In Phase 1 – Examine, inquire into and make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly by November 27, 2014 on:
    1. Principles for the relationship between elector organizations and their endorsed candidates with respect to expense limits, including how elector organizations and endorsed candidates share accountability for expense limits, with consideration for fairness between independent candidates and candidates endorsed by elector organizations.
    2. Principles for establishing expense limits for third party advertisers, including whether there should be an overarching, cumulative limit on third party spending such as exists in provincial general elections.

The above recommendations to the Legislative Assembly shall inform the preparation of legislation to implement an expense limits system in local elections.

  1. In Phase 2 – Examine, inquire into and make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly by June 12, 2015 on expense limit amounts for candidates, including, but not limited to, the general relationship between limits for the various offices, and for third party advertisers in local elections.

For Phase 2, the Special Committee shall specifically consider spending data from the 2014 local elections and other comparative information in making the above recommendations.

For both phases, the Special Committee shall undertake the above examinations with due regard for the following:

  • The Report of the Local Government Elections Task Force, including principles (May 2010);
  • The Expense Limits in Local Elections – Summary Report on Expense Limits Engagement (May 2014);
  • The Local Elections Campaign Financing Act, 2014, including its application to elections for mayors, councillors, electoral area directors, Islands Trust trustees, parks board commissioners and boards of education trustees;
  • The expense limits model approved by Government in July 2014, which is to have provincially-set limits for candidates and third party advertisers in local elections, with limits to be set using a flat-rate amount for jurisdictions under 10,000 people and a per capita formula for those over 10,000 and third party limits as a percentage of a candidate’s limit in the jurisdiction where the third party is advertising; and
  • The nature of local elections and the differences between local and provincial election systems.

The Special Committee shall limit its consideration of campaign finance topics to forming recommendations on expense limits for local elections.

The Special Committee shall have all the powers of a Select Standing Committee and in addition is empowered to:

  • Appoint of their number, one or more subcommittees and to refer to such subcommittees any of the matters referred to the Committee;
  • Sit during a period in which the House is adjourned, during the recess after prorogation until the next following Session and during any sitting of the House;
  • Conduct consultations by any means the Committee considers appropriate;
  • Adjourn from place to place as may be convenient; and
  • Retain personnel as required to assist the Committee.

The Special Committee shall report to the House on the above dates, or as soon as possible, and shall deposit the original of its reports with the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly during a period of adjournment and upon resumption of the sittings of the House, the Chair shall present all reports to the Legislative Assembly.

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