The B.C. government has introduced legislation in order to make campaigns to recall members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) more fair by banning corporate and union donations, as well as restricting advertising rules.
“Recall campaigns have the potential of removing people from elected office, and it's only fair that the rules for elections apply to recall campaigns as well,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “Following the changes our government made last year, this legislation will ensure that we remove the influence of big money for those in favour and opposed to a recall of an MLA.”
Under the Recall and Initiative Act, when a recall petition is issued by the chief electoral officer, the voter becomes the proponent of the recall petition and has up to 60 days to gather signatures and submit the petition for verification.
Currently, there are no restrictions on who may contribute to the recall proponents, MLAs or third-party advertising sponsors, or how much they may contribute. Third-party advertising sponsors have no spending limits during a petition period, but recall proponents and MLAs do.
The Recall and Initiative Amendment Act 2018 addresses these problems by aligning financing rules for recall campaigns with the Election Act. The proposed changes to the Recall and Initiative Act include:
- banning corporate and union contributions;
- limiting individual British Columbians to contributing $1,200 per year to a petition proponent, an MLA subject to a petition, or to any one third-party advertising sponsor; and
- creating a spending limit of $5,000 for third-party advertisers during a recall petition period.
The $1,200 annual limit will apply to political contributions made to the MLA, the MLA’s political party or constituency association during an election. This means that individuals cannot give more than $1,200 annually for any combination of recall and political contributions.
The proposed amendments also prohibit concurrent recall petitions in a single electoral district, meaning that only one petition can be circulating in a district at any given time.
Applying for a recall petition in the six months immediately before general voting day for a scheduled general election would also be prohibited.
- No other Canadian jurisdiction provides a legislative framework for voters to remove an elected member from office. In B.C., successful petitions result in the immediate removal of an MLA from office.
- A recall petition cannot be initiated until at least 18 months after an MLA is elected.
- Nov. 13, 2018, would be the earliest opportunity to apply to recall an MLA elected in the May 9, 2017, provincial general election.
News release, Sept. 18, 2017: New government ends era of ‘big money’ in politics: https://news.gov.bc.ca/15423
A backgrounder follows.