Government works across party lines to introduce amendments to campaign finance bill

David Eby

THE Government of British Columbia has tabled amendments to strengthen provisions of the Election Amendment Act, 2017 that incorporate suggestions from both opposition parties as well as consultations with Elections BC.

This is another step in government’s commitment to work with all parties in the legislature to ensure a transparent, democratic process that benefits all British Columbians.

“We are doing politics differently and, as Premier Horgan has said, no party has a monopoly on good ideas,” said Attorney General David Eby. “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.

“Our government believes that the legislature works best when all MLAs are able to put forward good ideas and come together to support legislation that advances the public good,” said Eby. “Working collaboratively with other political parties is just one more example of how we are turning our commitments into reality.”