NPA fails to meet deadline to file election documents

Mayor Kennedy Stewart spent $320,228 on his election campaign

The Non-Partisan Association and its mayoral candidate in the October 2018 municipal election—Ken Sim—failed to file their financial disclosure statements with Elections B.C. before the deadline and have been penalized with $3,000 in fines, according to Elections BC.

Under the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act, disclosure statements must be filed with B.C.’s chief election officer within 90 days after general voting day for an election. The filing deadline for the Oct. 20, 2018 election was Jan. 18.

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Elections BC issued a news release Tuesday saying the NPA’s main campaign, school board campaign and the campaign of Sim, who finished runner-up to independent candidate Kennedy Stewart, failed to meet the deadline.

As a result, the campaigns were fined $500 each and have until Feb. 19 to file the documents.

Disclosure statements for park board candidate John Coupar and council candidate Sarah Kirby-Yung, who were both elected, were filed after the Jan. 18 deadline. Their campaigns were penalized $500 each, as was the campaign of NPA school board candidate Chris Qiu.

NPA president Gregory Baker told the Courier Tuesday that all financial disclosure statements for the party and Sim will be filed by the Feb. 19 deadline. The party has already paid $1,500 of the $3,000 in fines, he said.

“You know what, it is incredibly complicated and it’s just taking us a lot longer to complete it than we anticipated just by virtue of the fact that there are new rules and we have a lot of transactions,” said Baker, estimating the party raised close to $1 million and spent almost the same in the election.

The “new rules” he referred to are the ban on corporate and union donations. Baker estimated the party had more than 4,000 donors, including those who donated to campaigns of the candidates and the party as a whole.

None of the other Vancouver parties or organizations that had candidates in the election failed to meet the first deadline to file financial disclosure statements. Aside from the NPA, an independent mayoral candidate named Spike was the only other candidate in Vancouver who failed to meet the Jan. 18 deadline.

Baker said it was “a fair question” to ask why the NPA couldn’t meet the deadline when all other Vancouver parties did. He again cited the number of transactions, suggesting the party had “probably more than almost all the others parties combined.”

Added Baker: “To our financial agent’s credit, he’s just being very, very thorough. We do not want to make any mistakes.”

The NPA elected five candidates to council, three to school board and two to park board.

Elections BC posted all disclosure statements from the Oct. 20 election to its website Tuesday.

Stewart won the race for Vancouver mayor after raising $244,005 and spending $320,228. The documents say 975 people contributed less than $100 for a total of $32,299.

The documents posted by Elections BC also included third party advertising sponsors, including the Vancouver and District Labour Council, which endorsed Stewart and 26 other Vancouver candidates in the election.

The council disclosed it spent $8,432.10 on brochures, pamphlets, flyers and the internet in the Vancouver campaign. The documents do not capture the pre-campaign period spending of the council.

In October, for example, the council told the Courier it had spent more than $25,000 on brochures and social media advertising and was paying the salaries of four workers seconded from their respective unions to work on the campaign to get Stewart and the other candidates elected.

Stephen von Sychowski, the president of the VDLC, said Tuesday the council filed what was required under the legislation. The four workers were not doing advertising work, he said, noting they were recruiting volunteers and organizing door-to-door campaigns.

“This is one of the things that came up several times during the campaign period, and we had a number of discussions with our lawyer and Elections BC about it to make sure that we were clarified on it,” he said. “[The four workers] weren’t actually going out and doing any advertising work, or producing advertising, or things like that.”

The Green Party, which elected three councillors and three park board commissioners, raised $83,760 and spent $84,298 on its main campaign. In the school board race, the Greens elected three trustees raised $30,952 and spent $34,849. COPE, which elected Jean Swanson to council, Barb Parrot to school board and John Irwin and Gwen Giesbrecht to park board raised $129,321 on its campaign and spent $127,353.

OneCity, which elected Christine Boyle to council, raised $66,129 and spent $78,224 on its main campaign. For its school board campaign, the party raised $42,125 and spent $51,216 to get Jennifer Reddy election.

Vision Vancouver raised $253,035 on its main campaign and spent $215,297. The party raised $49,004 for its school board campaign and spent $48,768. School trustee candidate Allan Wong was the party’s only candidate to get elected.

If the NPA fails to meet the Feb. 19 deadline to file how much it raised and spent in the 2018 campaign, then the party would be disqualified from running candidates in the next election and could face a fine of $20,000, said Rebecca Penz, spokesperson for Elections BC.

mhowell@vancourier.com

@Howellings

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