Skip to main content

An election flyer mailed out to homes in Vancouver features city council candidates from the OneCity party. The flyers say they were authorized by OneCity.

Some independent candidates in the Vancouver region are pooling resources to purchase joint advertising ahead of this week’s election, the latest example of how campaigns are finding ways to extend their reach in the face of new limits on donations and spending.

It’s particularly difficult for local-government candidates in B.C. elections to campaign because there is no ward system. That forces voters to try to make choices among sometimes dozens of candidates. As a result, some candidates will work together informally to try to help voters identify a group of like-minded future councillors.

Kennedy Stewart, an independent mayoral candidate, recently sent out flyers with the OneCity party. The flyer features Mr. Stewart’s photo and campaign messaging on one side, while the other side presents two OneCity candidates as the best way to support Mr. Stewart, a former NDP MP, as mayor. The flyer declares OneCity paid for it, although the party said Mr. Stewart also paid for half.

Story continues below advertisement

In New Westminster, there are joint newspapers advertisements appearing for the six independent candidates running for council who incumbent mayor Jonathan Coté identified as part of his team.

The candidates insist the joint advertising is legal as long as they disclose everything to Elections BC, the provincial elections agency. But the practice is nonetheless raising the ire of opposition groups.

“All of these so-called independents, it’s a joke,” said Daniel Fontaine, a council candidate with the New Westminster Progressive Electors Coalition. “Talking about making this a mockery. When I look at this, I can’t help but think of how [the local-election campaign finance law] will need a complete rewrite.”

Independent mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart is featured on an election flyer.

Mike Witherly, a campaign strategist with Vancouver’s Non-Partisan Association, said the joint ads "increasingly looks like a concerted effort to work around the purpose of the finance rules.”

But those doing the joint advertising say it’s a practice that’s been allowed forever and is still allowed under the new campaign-finance law for municipalities that was supposed to remove the influence of money from corporations and unions. Elections BC even details on its website how candidates should split expenses if they are doing ads together.

“It’s a standard practice and we have consulted with Elections BC,” said Neil Monckton, campaign manager for Mr. Stewart.

Some candidates have complained the law unfairly penalizes formal parties and benefits groups who call themselves independents but are clearly affiliated.

Story continues below advertisement

Recent changes to the law impose a $1,200 donation limit to candidates and parties. That means a single donor, for example, can only give a combined total of $1,200 to Vancouver’s Non-Partisan Association and any of its 20 candidates.

In contrast, donors can give $1,200 to each of Mr. Coté’s allies in New Westminster, who have branded themselves Team Coté but have not registered as a formal party. Likewise, a donor in Vancouver can give $1,200 to Mr. Stewart’s campaign and another $1,200 to the OneCity party, even though they are pooling resources.

Mr. Coté has said New Westminster has no large donors, so the idea that hundreds of people will be maxing out their contributions to his “team” – or the unaffiliated slate in any smaller town – is unlikely.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies