Liberals have dragged their feet on municipal elections reform, says NDP

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WITH a year to go until the next round of local government elections, there are still no clear rules in place for municipal politicians, despite repeated promises by the Liberal government.

“The Liberals have been promising changes to the Local Government Act since before the last round of elections,” said New Democrat Local Government Critic Selina Robinson on Thursday. “They dragged their feet before the provincial election and then cancelled the fall sitting of the legislature.”

She added: “Tomorrow will be exactly a year until the next local government elections, and civic leaders are already gearing up for their campaigns. It’s unfair to those people seeking election and it’s bad for the communities they want to serve.”

Proposed changes aimed at increasing transparency in local government elections – including banning anonymous donations – were first considered in 2010, after being recommended by a joint task force with the Union of B.C. Municipalities. The timeline was too tight then, and Robinson notes that by introducing legislation in the spring of 2014, the Liberals could again leave municipalities with as little as six months to make changes before the next election.

Robinson said: “New Democrats have been supportive of changes to the Local Governments Act and in fact, we think that additional changes not in the Liberals’ original package should also be considered.

“Banning anonymous donations is a good step, but so is imposing limits on overall campaign spending, a step urged by the task force but, thanks to the foot-dragging by the Liberals, will not be in place until 2017. And New Democrats think there needs to be a cap or ban on corporate and union donations in local elections, similar to what we have called for in provincial elections since 2005.

“With a year to go, however, British Columbians should be concerned that changes won’t be made in time for the next local government elections. This is a prime example of why Christy Clark’s decision to cancel the fall session was so bad for British Columbia’s democracy.”