Financial transactions between two B.C. political parties raise questions

(Victoria, 15 January 2013) – Financial transactions between two political parties in B.C. point to the need for fundamental reforms to the province’s Election Act, according to IntegrityBC.

IntegrityBC has reviewed 11 years of financial reports for the B.C. Patriot party and seven years of reports for the B.C. Advocational party. Over the past years, millions of dollars in loans and contributions have been made by one party to the other in a series of what can only be described as unusual financial transactions for two political parties that are suppose to be competing for public support.

While permissible under the B.C. Election Act, these types of transfers would be prohibited under Alberta and Quebec’s Election Acts, and are unheard of in other provinces.

In 2011, the Advocational party had $2.5 million in assets and liabilities of $1.1 million, the Patriot party had $24,653 in assets and liabilities of $1.25 million.

“Political parties are not intended to act as credit unions for other political parties,” said IntegrityBC executive director Dermod Travis. “It’s difficult to see how any of these transactions further the goals of a political party.”

According to the B.C. Election Act, “a political party is an organization that has as a primary purpose the fielding of candidates for election to the Legislative Assembly.”

Neither the Advocational or Patriot party ran a candidate in the 2009 provincial election, has an online presence, released a platform or has a listed telephone number. According to the website, the two parties have yet to nominate candidates for the 2013 election.

As part of an overhaul of the B.C. Election Act, IntegrityBC is calling for tougher rules when it comes to forming a political party in the province and keeping it in good-standing.

In B.C. a political party can be registered with the signature of only “two principal officers of the party.” In Alberta registration requires signatures from 0.3 per cent of the eligible number of electors in the last general election. In Ontario, it requires 1,000 signatures from eligible voters.

In Ontario, the Chief Electoral Officer retains the right to deregister a party if – in his opinion – it fails “to participate in public affairs in accordance with its Statement of Fundamental Purpose.” Ontario has 21 registered parties and all 21 put candidates forward in the 2011 election.

In Alberta, a party will be deregistered if it does not endorse a single candidate in a general election. Alberta has nine registered parties and all nine put candidates forward in last year’s election.

According to B.C.’s Election Act, a political party will only be deregistered if it fails to run at least two candidates in a general election and in the election preceding it.

In 2009, six parties failed to run a candidate in the general election or a candidate in the three byelections that have been held since. Of the six, only those that fail to run two candidates in May will risk deregistration.

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For more information:
Dermod Travis, Executive Director