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BC government breaking pledge to clean up municipal elections

The British Columbia government will fail during the current legislative session to make long-promised improvements to how municipal elections are conducted, the minister responsible acknowledged yesterday.

Asked whether the government would make the changes to the Local Government Act that the Local Government Elections Task Force recommended in 2010, community, sport and cultural development minister Bill Bennett said, "Not Local Government Act, no."

The 31 proposed changes included things like setting expense limits, requiring third party advertisers to register, and banning anonymous donations. Fifteen of the changes required amendments to provincial laws.

Bennett co-chaired the task force, which was a joint project of the province and the Union of B.C. Municipalities, during a previous stint as the minister responsible.

In July, 2010, the government said it would make the changes in time for the 2011 elections, but in April, 2011, said they would not be in place until 2014 "due to tight timelines for spring legislation and the complexity of the planned changes."

A Feb. 13, 2013, UBCM newsletter says Bennett told the organization's representatives the legislation "would be ready to go for a fall 2013, or later legislative session, noting the complexity of developing a campaign expense limit formula."

The provincial election, which polls suggest the current government will lose, is scheduled for May 14, 2013.

The UBCM newsletter also says the government intends to move the municipal election date from the third week in November to the third week in October, but the UBCM has asked the minister that the change not be put in place until 2017 so the election date in 2014 is not too close to that year's UBCM convention.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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