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Recall poll expense may need to be declared: Elections BC

If the results of a poll in cabinet minister Ida Chong's Victoria area constituency are used by one of the sides in a recall campaign, the expense for the survey will have to be declared to Elections British Columbia.

Recall proponents and MLAs have spending limits and will have to file their expenses when the petition process is finished, said Nola Western, Elections B.C.'s assistant chief electoral officer responsible for funding and disclosure.

The disclosure forms have a space for “research and polling” expenses, but do not require more specific details, she said.

A telephone poll in Chong's Oak Bay-Gordon Head constituency included questions that appeared aimed to find out the likelihood of the campaign succeeding and to test what arguments might affect whether people will sign the recall petition, The Tyee reported. It is unclear who is paying the company to conduct the survey.

The group Fight HST has announced Chong is its first recall target, but the campaign period has not yet officially started.

Western said that if the proponent or the MLA paid for the poll and use the information gathered in the campaign, they will have to disclose the expense and it would be subject to the spending limit. “It's when they use the data that determines whether it's subject to the spending limits or not.”

If the poll is being paid for by another party, such as the media, the expense will not need to be disclosed, she said.

Spending reports will be due 28 days after the recall petition period closes, she said.

Messages to Chong's office and the Fight HST group have not yet been returned.

Update, 3:37 p.m.: Fight HST's Chris Delaney wrote in an email that his group had nothing to do with the poll. “Only the government has money for such a wasteful poll,” he said.

Update, 8:42 p.m.: Lynne Henderson responded by email to say she is working with Ida Chong on the recall. “We have heard about the poll, but know nothing about it and do not know who has requested it,” she wrote.

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

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