Expense Limits Legislation Amendment Introduced

On February 25th, Minister Fassbender introduced Bill 17, the Local Elections Campaign Financing (Election Expenses) Amendment Act enabling the establishment of expense limits for candidates, elector organizations and third parties, with the actual limits being set out in regulation.

Local governments will recall that the Minister introduced Bill 43, the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act in October 2015 as an ‘exposure bill’ to provide for one final round of consultation on the proposed legislation.  Bill 43 reflects the recommendations coming forward from the June 2015 report of the Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits. 

Bill 17, the Amendment Act, reflects the following changes, compared to Bill 43:

  •  The expense limits period for candidates and elector organizations will be altered from January 1st to 28 days prior to the close of Election Day.  This change will now ensure comparable expense limit periods for provincial and local government elections.  This is one area of change UBCM had advocated since consistent rules between provincial and local governments had been identified as a recommendation coming out of the 2010 UBCM-Province Elections Task Force.
  • Proposes a flat rate for third party advertisers in election areas with less than 15,000 people.  This addresses stakeholder concerns raised during consultation that in small jurisdictions third party advertising limits were too low to be reasonable. The amount will be set by regulation and is proposed at $750.  As well there are some other adjustments to third party advertisers in areas with over 15,000 populations.

•   In order to clarify and strengthen enforcement for expense limits, the legislation includes some changes to penalties and offences.

•   Proposes a related amendment to the Local Government Act re-instating the rule that a person who is disqualified from voting in an election in British Columbia is also disqualified from being nominated for, elected to, or holding office.

Expense limits are expected to be in place for the next local government elections in October 2018.

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