A Non-Partisan Association official said failed city council candidate Francis Wong will finally disclose his campaign spending, despite being banned from running in the next election.
“Talked with Peter Armstrong, the campaign chair, who has talked with Francis,” said campaign manager Norman Stowe via email. “Francis let Peter know he will be filing this week.”
Wong and six others failed to file campaign financing disclosures and pay $500 tardiness fines by the April 18 deadline.
In the Nov. 19 civic election, Wong received 44,708 votes, almost 4,000 shy of the winner of the 10th and final city council seat, Adriane Carr of the Green Party of Vancouver. Other non-filers included mayoral candidates Lloyd Alan Cooke and Samuel Pelletier, council candidates Lauren Gill and Aaron Spires and park board candidates Andrew Murray and Tammy Truong.
Gill was active in the Occupy Vancouver protests last fall and won the Last Candidate Standing debate at Robson Square. Occupy Vancouver challenged civic parties to disclose donors before the Nov. 19 election, but only the upstart Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver responded. The seven candidates already forfeited their original $100 deposits for not filing within 120 days of the election. They are ineligible to run in the 2014 B.C. municipal elections and cannot endorse another candidate. Three candidates failed to disclose after the 2002 and 2008 elections and four after 2005.
The report on non-filers sparked a spirited debate at Tuesday’s city council meeting after chief electoral officer Janice MacKenzie admitted the city’s enforcement powers are minimal. “It strikes me as a huge loophole that a member of a certain campaign could receive money, spend that money and simply not make a disclosure by spending $500 and the city has no capacity to chase that,” said Vision Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs. “I welcome some commitment from Coun. (George) Affleck that the NPA will pursue that information and try to provide it to council.”
Rookie councillor Affleck denied the NPA is a political party. “Once the election is over, it disbands and doesn’t have any influence over things going on here today,” Affleck said.
Vision Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie disagreed. “There is an (annual general meeting), there are a number of events that occur around the city, seemingly out of magic it appears that party members with balloons and placards appear with the NPA brand,” countered Louie. “So it doesn’t seem that it disappears between elections. In fact, it’s quite forceful between elections.”
Louie criticized the NPA for receiving a whopping $960,000 donation from developer Rob Macdonald as part of its record $2.6 million expenditure. Vision Vancouver spent $400,000 less and preserved its city council, school board and park board majorities.
Coun. Elizabeth Ball told council the NPA is working with “the named person” to fulfill his obligations. “Everyone at some point or another has made an error and deserves the chance to make it better,” Ball said. “I am quite sure it will all be resolved in due course.”
Wong could not be reached for comment.
Mayor Gregor Robertson said Vision Vancouver wants to “take the big money out of Vancouver politics,” by banning corporate and union donations, but the B.C. government has not acted.