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Advertisement endorsing Powell River by-election candidate on up-and-up

POWELL RIVER, B.C. – George Doubt has the backing of his former colleagues in his bid to take the vacant sixth seat at Powell River’s council table.

The former city councillor is looking to reclaim the seat in an April 6 by-election. He is running against Allan Drummond, former qathet Regional District alternate director Allan Rebane, and former mayoral candidate Glenn Holstine.

In a recently published newspaper advertisement, city councillors Cindy Elliott, Maggie Hathaway, CaroleAnn Leishman, Jim Palm, and Rob Southcott endorsed Doubt for city council.

The City of Powell River’s chief election officer Chris Jackson noted that the ad isn’t from the city, nor is it from the chief election officer.

“It’s just a personal ad put in the paper with people who are current councillors,” Jackson said. “As long as Elections BC and the campaign financing rules and regulations are followed, there’s nothing wrong from the chief election officer’s point of view.”

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Asked if the advertisement is precedent setting, Jackson said he has seen that kind of an ad elsewhere.

“I’ve seen organizations support people and what-not,” Jackson said. “They are councillors but they’re not representing the city at all – they’re just representing their own opinion. I guess you can call it third party kind of stuff.”

Elections BC director of communications Rebecca Penz said there is nothing in the Local Elections and Campaign Financing Act that restricts that kind of advertising, nor does the Act regulate the content of advertising.

Penz noted that the campaign period for the Powell River by-election begins March 9.

“At that point, under the Local Elections and Campaign Financing Act, any third party advertisers will need to register with Elections BC, but until that time, there are no requirements to register with Elections BC,” she explained.

Penz said if a candidate chooses to run ads during the campaign period, which is different than the election period, they must register with Elections BC as a third party advertising sponsor.

“And there are established limits that they have to follow, as well,” she added.

Why a by-election?

On Jan. 9., following Drummond’s petition to the B. C. Supreme Court, Justice Groves declared the election of the sixth seat on City Council annulled and the office declared vacant.

The Judge found that four people voted who may not have been entitled to do so.

Because there were only two votes separating Doubt and Drummond, the Court concluded that the number of ineligible voters may have materially affected the result of Doubt’s election.

In such cases, the Court will declare the election invalid, according to a release from the City of Powell River.

Justice Groves acknowledged in his decision that the candidates, voters and election officials acted in good faith and that there was no evidence or suggestion of anyone purposely contravening the Act.

As a result of the decision, a by-election was scheduled to fill the vacancy.

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