It's up to the mandarins over in Victoria to decide what to do about Vision
We've written here at CityCaucus.com since early last year about our concerns relating to Vision Vancouver's cavalier disregard for the Vancouver Charter with respect to their 2008 $241,000 campaign debt. We've asked continually that Vision abides by the requirements of the Charter to identify within 30 days any new financial donations to the party.
Despite the fact that Vision argued loudly in favour of continuous campaign disclosure while in opposition, their response to our concerns to date has been utter silence.
The rules of Vancouver Charter pertaining to elections are enforced by the Provincial government. Specifically, the Ministry of Rural and Community Development is responsible for maintaining the integrity of our civic electoral system, and ensuring that we all play by the rules. When a municipal party goes deeply into debt to cover costs for an election, the lack of any tax deductions for campaign donations makes it even more of a struggle to pay it back.
A quarter million dollar debt is not chump change – just ask Coun. Raymond Louie, who spent that much alone in his unsuccessful Mayoral nomination campaign. Parties may resort to measures to reduce their debt such as reducing costs, but Vision Vancouver has abandoned that approach. They've hired several staff including an on-salary Executive Director. Money, it would seem, is no object to Vision.
To allay any concerns that may exist around campaign fundraising and spending, CityCaucus.com has decided to write to the Hon. Bill Bennett, Minister of Community and Rural Development to review Vision Vancouver's alleged violation of the rules of the Vancouver Charter. We submitted the letter yesterday and look forward to a response from the Minister's office in the weeks to come.
Here below is the text of that letter...
The Hon. Bill Bennett
Minister of Community and Rural Development
Province of British Columbia
Room 301, Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
Dear Minister Bennett,
I respectfully request the attention of your Ministry with respect to the non-compliance of Section 62 of the Vancouver Charter by the elector organization “Vision Vancouver”.
Section 62, titled “Duty to file disclosure statement” of the Vancouver Charter details the regulations with regard any declarations of campaign expenses and donations. Sub-section 62.1 (“Duty to file supplementary reports”) outlines the requirement to report to the City Clerk within 30 days “any new information” with respect to the original disclosure statement.
On March 16, 2009 Vision Vancouver disclosed all campaign donations and the total expenses of their 2008 election campaign to the City Clerk’s office. The disclosure indicated a negative balance of $241,666.61. Payments toward this campaign debt trigger the Charter’s requirement for a supplementary report within 30 days of the receipt of any new funding.
In October 2009 Vision Vancouver held a widely publicized fundraiser. There has been no supplementary report delivered to the City Clerk’s office in the nearly eight months that have passed since that event, nor any attempt to explain how their debt is being managed – if interest payments are being made for example, which would also constitute a 2008 campaign expense.
It is my hope that your office will seek to find out from the Board of Directors of Vision Vancouver why they have not complied with the Charter requirements, and request that they make an immediate and full disclosure of their financial status in regard to the 2008 campaign debt to the City Clerk’s office.
Section 64.1 (“Disqualification of elector organization or campaign organizer for failure to file”) indicates that by failing to comply with disclosure rules under the Charter, Vision Vancouver may be subject to penalties including being prohibited to raise or spend money in relation to future elections. I leave it to your Ministry to rule on this matter.
Your consideration of these matters is most appreciated.
Will Vision respond by becoming more transparent? Will the BC government give them a pass? We'll be sure to notify our readers of any formal response from the Minister's office here at CityCaucus.com.
- post by Mike