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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

B.C. Liberal 'compromise'

The Alberta Conservative government has been getting a lot of flak for its proposed cap on third party spending come election time. But the B.C. Liberals are playing the same tune. Their bill would even have capped third party spending for four months before an election (a provision made possible by the fact B.C. has a fixed election date).

However, due to widespread public and pundit criticism, the Campbell crowd is now toning down its bill just a bit. Here's their just-issued press release:

For Immediate Release
May 27, 2008

Ministry of Attorney General


VICTORIA - Attorney General Wally Oppal has today tabled amendments to
Bill 42, the Election Amendment Act 2008, that respond to public
feedback about the length of time election spending is regulated during
set date elections.

The amendments shorten the time period that will limit spending by
political parties, candidates and third parties; and will lower the
amount political parties can spend in the pre-writ period. The time
period limiting third-party advertising spending will be cut from 120 to
60 days, prior to the start of the campaign, plus the 28-day campaign
period itself, while the time limits regulating spending for political
parties and candidates will also be cut in half from 120 to 60 days
prior to the writ being dropped.

Although there will be no changes in the amount third parties and
candidates can spend within those time limits, the amendments will
reduce the amount political parties can spend in the pre-writ period
from $2.2 to $1.1 million. This change is aimed at reducing the gap
between what political parties can spend and what third parties are able
to spend.

"With these two changes, the government is balancing concerns that have
been raised about Bill 42 with the need to ensure fair elections for all
and to ensure everyone's voice is heard. The limits are consistent with
the principles articulated by the Supreme Court of Canada that are aimed
at ensuring the voice of any citizen is not drowned out by those who
have the resources to engage in expensive election campaigns," said
Oppal. "We saw in the last election third parties spending millions of
dollars leading up to the election and at least $3 million more during
the campaign period itself. These changes are aimed at preventing our
system from drifting towards an American-style election system that
demands expensive advertising campaigns in order to effectively engage
in democratic discourse."

The chief electoral officer in his March 2006 report also noted that set
election dates raise some concerns that "the effectiveness of election
expense limits and rules regarding the identification of election
advertising sponsors may be compromised." He suggested that amending the
campaign period for fixed date events could address these concerns and
cited March 1 as a possible starting date for an extended campaign
period. As amended, Bill 42 will ensure the rules are clear and binding
for everyone from 60 days before the writ is dropped until election day.

Government has already, as a matter of policy, banned non-essential
advertising four months prior to the election day, one month longer than
what applies to third party advertising. For greater certainty,
amendments will also clarify that nothing in the act prevents government
or MLAs from carrying out their proper functions and official duties.

All other amendments proposed to the Election Act under Bill 42 would
remain the same.



Dave Townsend
Senior Public Affairs Officer
Ministry of Attorney General
250 387-4962
250 889-5945 (cell)

Posted by Terry O'Neill on May 27, 2008 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink


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Tracked on 2008-05-29 6:57:59 PM


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