Expense Limits Legislation Introduced

Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, introduced Bill 43 on October 22, outlining proposed expense limits for candidates and third-party advertising sponsors in local government elections.  The bill reflects the recommendations of the Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits.

While the actual expense limits will be set out by regulation, the formula and other related details are as follows:

  • For candidates in election areas < 10,000 people, the proposed expense limits establish a flat rate of $10,000 for mayoral candidates and $5,000 for all other locally elected offices.
  • For election areas > 10,000 people, a per-capita formula determines expense limits.
  • Expense limits for candidates and electoral organizations would apply from Jan. 1 of the election year to election day (the third Saturday of October).
  • Proposed expense limits for third-party advertising sponsors would be 5% of the expense limit of a candidate in the local election area, with a cumulative, province-wide maximum of $150,000 applicable during a 28-day campaign program.

In April 2015 UBCM made a presentation to the Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits.  When the Special Committee released its report, UBCM wrote to Minister Fassbender expressing our support for the Special Committee’s recommendations related to: higher expense limits for mayors; a formula that is sensitive to different-sized communities; expense limits that are applied to third parties; and limits that will be adjusted based on inflation. 

However, we did flag concerns about the application of the January 1st date to all campaign spending by candidates but not third party advertisers, who would be subject to a 28-day period.  We noted that by only applying the January 1st date to candidates, there is the possibility of ‘back door’ financing of candidate campaigns by third party advertisers.  By creating this potential loophole the principles of transparency and accountability are jeopardized.  It has also been noted that neither provincial, nor federal government candidates are subjected to such lengthy campaign expense reporting periods. 

And, while not part of the scope of the Special Committee’s work, UBCM took the opportunity to reiterate to the Minister, its position with respect to contribution limits.  In 2013 the UBCM membership endorsed resolution B95 from the City of Vancouver which requested that UBCM support Vancouver’s request to the provincial government for amendments to the Vancouver Charter to allow Vancouver to make rules for election campaign finance that place greater limits on campaign spending and contributions, and provide for greater disclosure.”

In his October 22nd release, Minister Fassbender advised that by introducing the Bill in this session, the Province is creating a final opportunity for consultation with those interested, and affected, by the introduction of expense limits.  Parliamentary Secretary Linda Reimer will lead the ongoing consultation.

Further information about the proposed expense limits and questions that you might wish to consider when reviewing the bill can be found on the MCSCD website.

UBCM encourages members to provide feedback to the Ministry, but please copy your response to Marie Crawford, UBCM Associate Executive Director.  The deadline for comments is November 27, 2015.

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