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Province moves to change election advertising rules

 

The province has tabled amendments to change provisions of the Election Amendment Act that incorporate suggestions from both opposition parties as well as consultations with Elections BC.

“We are doing politics differently and, as Premier Horgan has said, no party has a monopoly on good ideas,” said Attorney General David Eby, in a press release. “I am pleased that the amendments introduced today are a tangible result of that commitment and include changes proposed by both opposition parties.”

The amendments to the Election Amendment Act, 2017 include an expansion of the definition of what is considered election advertising. The BC Liberal Party’s member’s bill included activities that were not contained in the government’s bill, and this amendment would expand that definition to include paid canvassing and direct mail.

Two of the key amendments are changes brought forth by the B.C. Green Party caucus. Following the initial introduction of the legislation, the BC Green Party caucus proposed that the legislation could be strengthened by increasing financial reporting and further restricting how parties can use funds raised before the contribution rules come into effect.

These changes mean political parties cannot use prior contributions for partisan advertising that is prohibited under the new rules, including advertising conducted outside the standard campaign period. The new changes also include a phased-in quarterly report of political contributions, similar to the rules for federal political parties, which has been a priority of the Green caucus.

After consultation with Elections BC, amendments provide the province’s chief electoral officer the discretion to impose a monetary penalty that suits the circumstances when a person contravenes the act. In addition, a new monetary penalty has been proposed for failing to identify third-party sponsors within election advertising.

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