NDP votes against Liberals' latest election "gag law"
VICTORIA – The Opposition New Democrats have voted against Liberal government amendments to the Election Act that would introduce new limits on pre-election advertising.
“The courts have found the Liberals’ past attempts to limit political participation illegal. The latest one is undemocratic and they simply need to stop looking for ways to muzzle their critics,” said Attorney General critic Leonard Krog.
“The Campbell government unsuccessfully tried to limit public participation. With the many pressing issues facing British Columbians we question why Premier Clark would use staff and legislative time and resources to repeat this mistake,” said Krog.
Shortly before the 2009 provincial election the Liberals brought in limits on pre-election advertising. The ban was initially for 120 days prior to an election and was later reduced to 60 days. Nonetheless both the B.C. Supreme Court and Court of Appeal found that the 60-day limit was unconstitutional.
The amendments, contained in Bill 41 Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, 2012 attempt to reinstate a shortened advertising ban - from 60 days to a maximum of 40 days prior to an election. The Liberals have said that if passed, the amendments will not be brought into force immediately, but will first be referred to the B.C. Court of Appeal. Krog questioned why government did not check with the court before taking up legislative time in the latest attempt to bring in another gag law.
Krog said that Adrian Dix and the New Democrats have called for measures that would enhance democracy, including a ban on corporate and union donations to political parties. He also called on the Liberal government to commit to limiting taxpayer-funded government advertising around by-election and election periods, something that was clearly in evidence in the recent Chilliwack-Hope and Port Moody-Coquitlam by-elections.