2014 Local Elections Issues Kick Off Early

LocGovTskForce Report … and here I thought that the Christmas merchandising now being displayed in the big box stores was pushing the envelope!

Part One of Three #localelection2014 previews.

The Observer article Businesses ponder voting scheme (Wickett: Oct. 24 2013) looks at the Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce’s discussion on the BC Chambers’ position for businesses to have a vote in local elections.  Check it out.

Local chamber president Jim Kimmerly said he doesn’t necessarily think businesses should get two votes, but noted that Salmon Arm does have a lot of businesses with owners who don’t live in town.

Chamber member Stu Bradford said business owners should be able to have that one vote.

Cookie Langenfeld of Downtown Salmon Arm said she agrees with businesses having a vote.

Aim High had a post and good discussion on this a few years ago. See Should Corporations Be Allowed to Vote in Municipal Elections? (March 11 2010). The Comments section has some great points.

Of added interest from way back then is a comment submitted by Brian Bonney – the longtime BC Liberal party activist and back room fixer who resigned (pushed) from his B.C. Liberal government communications staff position in the recent Ethnicgate scandal.

Getting back to the now though, this issue of corporate votes is not a new one. The BC Liberals appointed a provincial Local Elections Task Force that was set up in 2009 and reported out in 2010 (report here). On this issue, the task force was not in favour noting fairness, equity and administrative issues as well as no other Canadian jurisdiction permitting a corporate vote.

From page 28 of that report:

“ …the Task Force deliberated long and hard on the issue and carefully considered the many view sit heard. Of all the issues the Task Force looked at,the corporate vote generated the most input, and also the most passionate comments from both those against the corporate vote and those in favour of it.

Balancing the interests of businesses, local governments and the public is an essential consideration when contemplating a corporate or business vote. There was no approach evident to the Task Force that would ensure fairness among businesses, equity for electors and administrative workability. There is no corporate vote in provincial or federal elections in Canada, or in local elections in other provinces. The only example of a corporate vote in local elections was found in the City of London, England.

As a result of its deliberations,the Task Force recommends maintaining the existing voter eligibility rules on this issue and not establishing a corporate vote.”

So a topic worth discussing but it should be in context with a full discussion of the issues and the recent task force findings.

The rationale used by the BC Chamber – of local governments not having adequate accountability is not accurate at all, especially relative to the supposed accountability of other levels of government. Is it perfect? No Is it in need of improvements? Yes. Does it justify a corporate vote. Likely not.

Similarly, the implication that differential taxation rates justify a corporate vote has also been rejected on the balance. For the record, our local council has done a decent balancing job on that … IMO.

Your thoughts?

Author: Tim Lavery

Aim High Salmon Arm It matters

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