Changes needed in Elections Act

Summerland letters Elections Act changes signs contributions rules

Dear Editor,

Once again the signs are out all over town heralding another municipal election.

Sadly, there are not many vying for the position of councillor, and without any competition for mayor, the incumbent is once more in control of all the political dealings that go on in Summerland, as well as much of the financial business; after all, the corporation is the biggest business in town.

By and large, after the fiasco of the first few months in office, the last council has, I think, done a reasonable job.

With not much money left in municipal coffers, expenditures on new projects have been relatively small.

With the economy in a downturn nearly everywhere, investment opportunities have been largely at a standstill.

However, one can’t help but feel greatly disappointed in our provincial government’s lack of initiative in making major changes to our Elections Act.

They had more than ample time after the Campbell task force made its recommendations, but Premier Clark did not act on them.

Regulations such as a maximum contribution limit to candidates, open details of contributions during elections, local contributors only, no contributions from corporations or unions, absolutely no anonymous donations, limited personal donations, financial reports to be filed within 15 days after the election and no contributions accepted after the election were the important proposals to bring our Elections Act into the 21st century.

Other recommendations such as responsible advertising by candidates is almost a given, after the totally unacceptable advertising during the last municipal election.

There should have been a clarification and strengthening of the conflict of interest rules.

The rules should be emphasized clearly before a candidate runs for office. If he has any potential conflict he should be advised not to run.

Perhaps there could be a seminar in advance of elections.

Anyone who is considering running for office should be required to attend or their nomination would be invalid. This would eliminate the excuse, “Well I didn’t know that rule.”

Still, it is not enough that a councillor leaves the meeting while a vote is held where he perceives himself to be in conflict.

In a “tightly-knit” slate of officers as we have at the moment and with an agenda that is discussed by council prior to the meeting, you can’t help but wonder just how much divergence of opinion is held amongst councillors and mayor.

The best of luck to all new council and school trustee candidates.

Frank Martens




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