By Coralee Oakes
Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
VICTORIA - As we look ahead to the 2014 General Local Elections on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, we can reflect on how fortunate we are, as British Columbians, to live in a strong democracy where all citizens can participate in elections freely and fairly.
I have been honoured to serve my fellow citizens, first through election to local government in my home community and now as a Member of the Legislative Assembly and Minister responsible for working with B.C.'s 189 local governments. Every day, I see first-hand the important decisions elected leaders in local governments make to build successful communities, urban and rural, throughout British Columbia. Local government provides the forum for a community to create democratic aspirations and accomplish shared goals. Local government builds the infrastructure essential to strong communities.
Citizen engagement is the lifeblood of democracy. I encourage all B.C. citizens to stay informed about their local government and fully participate in local government elections. There are many ways to participate in local democracy, whether as a voter, a candidate or campaign volunteer. Take your choice, but do participate.
Earlier this year, the Government of British Columbia approved the first significant local elections reforms in 20 years. I was proud to introduce the legislation and celebrate Royal Assent for new rules to modernize the local election process.
Voters, candidates, elector organizations, third party sponsors and individuals or organizations that have acted as campaign organizers need to understand the new rules. B.C. citizens can now access online local election guides detailing how to participate in local elections. The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development publishes guides online for: voters, candidates, elector organizations and how to support a candidate.
The ministry has also developed a new brochure highlighting elections rules that every candidate needs to know. Citizens can get a copy of the brochure at local MLA offices or access the information online at: www.cscd.gov.bc.ca/lgd/elections_home.htm
As part of the new local elections campaign finance requirements, Elections BC has a new role in local elections to provide education and to ensure compliance and enforcement of local elections campaign finance and third-party sponsor advertising rules. Elections BC expanded its website to include information for the public, candidates, elector organizations, third-party sponsors and individuals or organizations that have acted as campaign organizers. For details, visit: www.elections.bc.ca/lecfa
Requirements that are new for the 2014 General Local Elections include:
- Candidates, elector organizations and other election participants must file campaign finance disclosure statements with Elections BC within 90 days after an election, rather than 120.
- Sponsorship information must be included on all election advertisements.
- Third-party sponsors must register with Elections BC and file disclosure statements.
- All campaign disclosure statements will be published online by Elections BC.
These new requirements will ensure local elections are more transparent and accountable.The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, along with Elections BC, the Local Government Management Association, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, the BC School Trustees Association and other stakeholders are working together to provide on-going education to help election participants comply with the new local elections campaign finance and advertising rules.
Be sure to vote on Nov. 15, 2014, in your community. Consider running for office. Above all, participate and help keep democracy strong in British Columbia.