VANCOUVER—When the BC Liberal government introduced Bill 7—the Local Government Statutes Amendments Act—it said the legislation was intended to provide more transparency and disclosure. But a presentation at CUPE BC’s political action conference earlier this week revealed that the effect of Bill 7 may end up creating more problems than it solves.
Mike Dumler, CUPE’s legislative coordinator in B.C., and Moira Mackenzie, director of the BCTF’s communications and campaigns division, presented delegates with an overview of the new Act and a background on the importance of election rules.
While Bill 7 has garnered scant media coverage—partly due to saturation coverage of Bill 42, the provincial election gag law—Dumler and Mackenzie said the bill has implications for union activists and community groups involved with civic election campaigns.
“When we saw this legislation,” said Mackenzie, “we thought it was designed to put a chill on any kind of activism and organizing.”
The most significant change is the bill’s introduction of a “campaign organizer” category, which defines “campaign organizer” in broad terms.
When asked who could fall under the definition, Dumler replied that individuals who collect or spend $500 or more in support of a candidate would qualify.
“Groups like the Sierra Legal Defense Fund, if it was to take on an issue tied to a candidate, could fall under that definition,” he said.
“DERA (the Downtown Eastside Residents Association), any group that campaigns on issues, may now find that even though they’re just campaigning on issues they’ve always campaigned on, they are subject to the new rules.”
Dumler said that CUPE BC and the BCTF, which are working together on the issue, are continuing to pressure the government for clarification and are considering their legal options.