Today Helen Trevors and myself received a unanimous vote (I think unanimous) for city staff to prepare a new resolution to forward to SILGA on recall. It was indicated that this resolution will also include a request for election legislation on the number of polls required per number of voters etc.(Maybe more, was unclear)
Anyway this is a victory and congratulations are in order to everyone that participated in this event. To all those that signed the petition and those faithful ones that stayed the course all the way through this. Thanks are also due to all the people that had faith in me to do as I said I would.
The prepared staff resolution will be on the February 21 council meeting agenda so they can meet the SILGA deadline of Feb. 24.
We shall see where this next step takes us.
On October 2, 2009, Premier Gordon Campbell announced a joint Task Force to make recommendations for legislative changes to improve the electoral process for local government elections across B.C. The Task Force subsequently made recommendations to modernize the local election campaign finance rules and lengthen the term in office.
Previously Elections BC did not play a role in local elections. This legislation gave Elections BC new responsibilities for publishing campaign finance information online and ensuring monitoring of compliance with legislation.
According to a statement from then Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Coralee Oakes and I quote:–
“British Columbians are fortunate to live in a strong democracy where citizens can participate in local elections freely and fairly. After much consultation with stakeholders, we are modernizing local government elections to maximize fairness, transparency and accountability.
This was the most significant update to B.C.’s local elections process in 20 years.”
We respectfully submit that this legislation while well intended does not go far enough.
The government’s reforms also contained a provision that gave civic governments a four-year mandate. This recommendation stemmed from the increasing complexity of civic government and their ability to ensure continuity of long range plans.
It also left a vacuum for the residents of municipalities as it left elected officials with the ability to make long-range plans unchecked; plans that were not discussed during the run up to the election and are not the wishes of the public affected. While the newly elected councillors could not be expected to have prior knowledge of these changes the re-elected people were well aware of the changes in the offing through in camera meetings.
Penticton city council is continuing with its plans to reform and dramatically change the city and there are no means at the disposal of the voters to change the direction of this council other than taking the City to court and the taxpayer’s effectively suing themselves. This creates distrust of the system; unrest in the populace and a general apathy on the part of the voter who begins to believe that their opinion doesn’t matter and their local leaders are not responsible to the electorate.
During a three month period in 2015 and after gaining the signatures of approximately 3000 Penticton voters requesting recall legislation I approached our MLA Dan Ashton and requested that the province bring forth legislation to bring accountability in these new four year terms. We need to have civic elections brought under the recall legislation that would give local residents of municipal; regional and school boards the ability to recall specific members of these councils if the need arises.
In 2015 UBCM forwarded the following resolution to the province:
B93 RECALL OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTED OFFICIALS
WHEREAS the recently extended term of office for local government elected officials in BC negatively affects the ability of the local electorate to vote for change in their local government;
AND WHEREAS there is a potential for local government elected officials to pursue activities that are not supported by, and not in the best interests of their constituents, potentially causing financial, social or operational harm in their communities:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that UBCM request that the Province of British Columbia amend BC’s Community Charter to include a mechanism enabling voters to recall their local government elected officials, whereby the signatures of more than 50% of registered municipal or ward voters would be required, with the petition being initiated no less than 18 months after the date the local government elected official was sworn in to office, following the same recall timeline currently being used by Elections BC for the recall of Members of the Legislative Assembly.
After the province rejected the recall resolution I reviewed the subject of its return with our local MLA Dan Ashton who told me that this basically leaves the further pursuit of recall legislation in the hands of municipalities and regional districts. If the municipalities wish to reactivate this motion that can be done by petitioning UBCM to put B93 back on the agenda. This can be done through local municipalities or organizations such as SILGA or the RDOS.
Alternatively Council can use the wording of B93 to forward a new resolution requesting recall to UBCM.
Members of the provincial government are subject to recall. I respectfully submit that local government representatives should be subject to recall also and request that council make a submission to put B93 back on the agenda or forward a new motion requesting recall legislation.
In the interests of the approximate 3000 Penticton voters that signed the recall petition I am requesting that council take action on this matter to see that B93 or a similar motion is put back on the UBCM agenda for 2017.
RESPONSE: Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
The Province recognizes that democratic and accountable local governments depend on elected officials, such as mayors and councillors, who have the legal authority and responsibility to make decisions on behalf of their communities.
Local government elections provide the fundamental democratic framework around which elected officials are ultimately held accountable for their decisions and actions.
The Province supports local governments taking more responsibility for the ethical conduct for representatives. The Community Charter already contains provisions including disqualification for ethical conduct and conflict of interest issues, among others. For example, if a municipal council member is disqualified from holding local elected office, but continues to act in office, the municipality, by a 2/3 vote of council, or 10 or more electors of a municipality, may apply to the Supreme Court to have that person declared disqualified. Reasons for disqualification include conflict of interest, failure to take the oath of office, unexcused absence from council meetings, and unauthorized expenditures. In addition, there are various tools local governments can use to support and clarify expected standards of behaviour, such as codes of conduct and oaths of office.
Recall legislation for local governments is not being considered at this time.