In the news release dated Sept. 9 (Coast Reporter, Sept. 22), the B.C. government has released a White Paper detailing changes to local government elections due in November 2014.
B.C. residents have until Oct. 23 to submit comments on this proposal via this link: www.cscd.gov.bc.ca/LocalGovtElectionReform/feedback.htm.
I compliment the Minister and her staff for revising various financial arrangements prevailing in past elections, which will enhance transparency and accountability a great deal.
But, two simple administrative revisions have been overlooked.
My first suggestion is to change the month of local elections from mid-November to early October in 2014, rather than wait until 2017. This will enhance the voting processes for the many snowbirds, catching them before they leave for their holidays; it would also improve the percentage of residents actually voting, currently hovering between 40 and 50 per cent.
The second suggestion involves non-resident candidacy within a given jurisdiction. The Local Government Act (LGA) allows non-residents to stand for election. Should they gain election, their responsibility and accountability rests solely on “conflict of interest,” as defined within another provincial government document, the Community Charter.
But, the definition of conflict of interest is very thin, resting upon either a “direct” or “indirect pecuniary interest” resulting from an elected person’s vote on a matter. An “indirect pecuniary interest” could result from that elected person’s votes on either tax revenue or tax expenditure measures, having no effect on that non-resident elected person. Therefore, that person should either voluntarily or compulsorily recuse themselves from any discussion/vote on tax topics coming before that local government. To do otherwise conflicts with the Community Charter’s apparent intentions.
But, a simple revision to the LGA, precluding persons standing for election within a jurisdiction other than one in which they are resident, would solve the issue once and for all.
Brian K. Sadler, Gibsons