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Elections BC investigating 3 of 5 Surrey civic slates

Safe Surrey Coalition, Surrey United and Surrey First investigated for potential contraventions of the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act
The last general civic election in B.C. was held on Oct. 15, 2022. (Black Press Media graphic)

Three of Surrey’s five political slates in the 2022 civic election are being investigated by Elections BC for potential contraventions of the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act (LECFA).

They are the Safe Surrey Coalition, led by former mayor Doug McCallum, Surrey First Electors Society, led by former Liberal MP, MLA and White Rock mayor Gordon Hogg, and United Surrey, led by Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal.

Not under investigation are Surrey Connect, led by current Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke, and Surrey Forward, led by former MP and current NDP MLA Jinny Sims.

According to a bulletin issued April 11 by Elections BC, the investigations are related to “one or more” potential contraventions including accepting prohibited contributions, failing to deal with prohibited contributions in accordance with LECFA, or sponsoring election advertising without an authorization statement.

“The investigations will determine whether contraventions have occurred or not and Elections BC will share the results of these investigations once they conclude. At this point no contraventions have been confirmed,” the bulletin advises.

According to civic campaign contribution rules, only a resident of British Columbia and a Canadian citizen or permanent resident can make a campaign contribution, organizations are prohibited from making campaign contributions, and campaign contributions from eligible individuals are limited annually, the limit in 2022 being $1,250 per campaign. The contribution limits apply to the slates and their endorsed candidates.

“For example, in 2022, a contributor could not give more than $1,250 in total to an elector organization and all of its endorsed candidates,” the Elections BC bulletin explains.

Financial agents must meet many requirements when accepting campaign contributions, such as ensuring the contribution is from an eligible individual, that no one contributes more than their annual limit, and that contribution information is recorded – value, date and when deposited.

Campaign financing disclosure reports for the 2022 election came due Jan. 13, 2023. After the deadline, Elections BC reviewed and audited the reports filed, concluding this in September last year.

The Elections BC investigations are based on the review and audit findings and supplementary report filings. “These investigations will proceed independently from one another and will conclude at different times. There are two possible outcomes once an investigation concludes. If potential contraventions are unsubstantiated, Elections BC will confirm that the elector organization is in compliance with LECFA. If potential contraventions are substantiated, the elector organization will be subject to enforcement action, which can include administrative monetary penalties,” the bulletin states.

It adds that the three slates “have been cooperative with Elections BC throughout the compliance review, audit, and supplementary report filing processes.”

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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