courtesy taoty
courtesy taoty

Changes to campaign financing rules are coming in time for the next local government elections in November 2014.

Coralee Oakes, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development announced last month that the Province is moving ahead with modernizing the rules for local government elections. The changes will reflect recommendations from a joint Provincial and Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) task force, and will be the most significant in nearly two decades.

“UBCM is pleased to see that the Province is moving forward on elections legislation,” says Mary Sjostrom, president of UBCM. “The phased approach they are adopting will help ensure the changes will work for the full range of communities in B.C. All candidates will look forward to learning what the rules will be for the 2014 campaign.”

The provincial government will release a white paper this month outlining the intended changes, following the task force’s recommendations except on spending limits, which will be implemented for the 2017 elections.

Some of the proposed changes include: requiring disclosure and registration by third-party advertisers; sponsorship information to be required on all election advertising; finance statements will need to be filed by 90 days after the election rather than 120; and anonymous contributions will be banned. The proposed legislation will also enable a key role for Elections BC in compliance enforcement of campaign finance rules for local elections.

A website link and email address will be provided for public comment on the white paper when it is released. The deadline for public comment will be October 23, 2013, and legislation is scheduled to be introduced in the spring of 2014.

Consultation on expense limits will start in November, and will inform further legislative changes for the 2017 elections.

Local government election rules apply to municipalities, regional districts, parks boards, the Islands Trust and boards of education.