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Lawyer decided on delay request: Oppal

Attorney General Wally Oppal is distancing himself from an attempt to keep spending limits on third party advertising in place until after the May 12 election.

“I'm not asking for it,” said Oppal, responding to a Vancouver Sun story that Craig Jones, a lawyer acting for the government, asked Saturday for a stay of proceedings. “He's on the ground and he argued the case and he's in a unique position to decide that.”

Later Oppal said Jones had not asked for a stay, but had suggested suspending the ruling. "There's no order made yet," said Oppal. "The section is invalid, but the next step is up to the judge as to whether or not that declaration of invalidity would be suspended or whether it would remain in effect and whether or not the government would appeal."

On Friday Justice Frank Cole ruled in B.C. Supreme Court that restrictions on third-party advertising should apply only for the 28-day election period, not the 88 days the government put into law last year. The ruling came out of a challenge from seven B.C. unions. Written reasons were expected to be released today, but have been delayed.

Asked whether or not third parties are free to advertise today, Oppal said, "I'm not their lawyer so I'm not there to give them legal advice. They have to govern themselves accordingly."

Earlier in the day Oppal said he wanted the government's law to stand. “I am disappointed with the ruling,” he said. “The intent of the legislation was to create a balance amongst all the people, third parties and everybody else in the electoral process.” Wealthy individuals or groups should not be able to “hijack” the campaign, he said.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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