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Former Gibsons council candidate fined for election signage error

On Dec. 13, Des Delaney, former candidate for a Gibsons councillor’s position was issued an enforcement notice by Elections BC assessing him a $100 fine.  That related to the omission of an authorization statement on some of his election lawn signs.
Delaney's election signage before the authorization statement sticker was added.

A lack of “fine print” required on election signage resulted in Desmond (Des) Delaney, candidate for 2022-26 Town of Gibsons council, being fined for violation of BC’s Local Elections Campaign Financing Act.  Delaney has until Dec. 28 to file for penalty determination review and he has not indicated to Coast Reporter whether he will do so.

On Dec. 13, Delaney, who was running for a councillor’s position, was issued an enforcement notice by Elections BC (EBC) assessing him a $100 fine. That related to the omission of an authorization statement on some of his election lawn signs. Under the act, all election signs must state that they had been authorized by the candidate’s financial agent. In addition, signs must identify that agent and provide a telephone number, email or mailing address where the agent may be contacted.

Errors on both sides

In his email statement Delaney, he outlined how the scenario played out. On Oct. 6 he was notified by an EBC staff member that he was “one of several candidates who had erected election signage in the Gibsons area without the required authorization noted on the sign.” According to EBC, they were notified of that oversight by a member of the public. 

Delaney said he apologized and asked how he should correct his error. He said he was told if he added the required information to the sign within the next few days and sent in a photo to EBC’s office showing that action had been taken “it would be fine.”

He stated that stickers with the omitted details were produced, applied to the signs and that he emailed EBC showing the correction had been made on Oct. 7. On Oct. 31, that agency’s investigations department asked Delaney for a picture of the sign without the authorized notation and a picture of it with the correction plus the invoice for the signage. 

“I asked why this was necessary as I had previously sent in the required info and was told that this was part of the process to confirm that I had corrected the issue,” Delaney wrote.

EBC's investigation report, dated Oct. 31, which misidentified Delaney as a candidate for mayor, stated “There has been no indication Des Delaney attempted to deliberately or knowingly contravene the legislation and [he] was compliant with all requests….there is no indication that there is a pattern of negative behavior. This is a first-time offence for the candidate.”

That was followed on Nov. 8, by a letter from an EBC’s investigations officer advising him he was to be charged between $100-500 for nonconformance with the act. 

“I requested that this assessment be reviewed based on the fact that it was a minor oversight and that it had been corrected immediately upon it being pointed out” he stated. Following that submission, on Dec. 13 EBC advised him he would be fined at the lowest $100 level. That letter misidentified the municipality where Delaney was a candidate.  

“The error [in the EBC letter] was not substantive, and does not change the Investigator’s findings or the penalty. A corrected notice has been issued to the subject and posted on our website," EBC communications advisor Melanie Hull stated in an email.

That website posting shows six candidates for the 2022-26 local government elections, and a number of other individuals and organizations working with candidates, have been assessed fine for related matters. None of the other individuals or groups listed were involved with this year's Sunshine Coast local government elections.