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Everyone should live within Election Act: BC premier

On a day when former Solicitor General Kash Heed moved to a seat on the back benches, Premier Gordon Campbell insisted he takes the Election Act seriously.

Heed stepped down on Friday saying that a special prosecutor had been appointed to investigate his possible role in an Election Act violation. The Tyee reported that afternoon that Elections B.C. forwarded a complaint about an illegal pamphlet written in Chinese and English to the RCMP sparking the investigation.

On Saturday the Vancouver Sun quoted Campbell saying, “We don't know if these are going to be serious, if they are going to be lengthy, whether they are trivial."

Which parts of the Election Act does the premier consider to be trivial?

“I was repeating what one of the reporters said to me, which was that these things are often minor things,” Campbell said today. “I think everyone should be living within the Election Act. That's certainly what I've endeavoured to do and I'm sure it's what everyone who runs for office endeavours to do.”

He said he believes Heed did the right thing by stepping down while the investigation continues.

“Any offense or potential offense under the Election Act is serious,” said Nola Western, Elections B.C.'s executive director in charge of electoral finance and corporate administration. “It's important to me. It's my job.”

Elections B.C. forwarded the pamphlet to the RCMP because it didn't meet the requirements of section 231 of the Elections Act, which requires election advertising to state who has sponsored it and include contact information.

“This is now completely in the hands of the RCMP,” she said. The penalty for illegal advertising would be up to a $10,000 fine and/or a year in jail.

Heed insisted he is pleased to be under investigation, citing the support he's had from colleagues, friends, family and the media. “It doesn't feel strange at all,” he said. “As a matter of fact I'm enjoying the new opportunity here.”

He has done nothing wrong, he said. “I recall something soon after the election in the Chinese media about a pamphlet but I didn't pay attention because it was not part of my campaign whatsoever,” he said. “We had nothing to do with it. I had nothing to do with it. The campaign didn't endorse anything of that nature, we never would, so I was surprised.”

“The real issue is who did them, who paid for them,” said NDP critic for the solicitor general Mike Farnworth. “How far up the campaign chain does this go? Does it go all the way up to the top of BC Liberal headquarters? Was Mr. Heed aware of what was going on with these leaflets?”

He added, “Clearly the police take these allegations seriously.”

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

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