NEWS RELEASE: ICBA Disappointed by Elections BC Ad Gag
BURNABY, B.C. – A proposed advertisement explaining the status of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association’s (ICBA) court case against the proportional representation referendum process has been gagged by Elections BC, following the adoption of Attorney General David Eby’s draconian referendum rules by the government earlier this year.
“This is another example of the Government’s heavy-handed approach in restricting free speech for five full months before voting ends – compared to 60 days for a general election, and 30 days for a local election,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA president. “Now they’re not just banning people from publicizing positions on prop rep, they’re stopping people from even talking about the glaring flaws in the process and matters before the courts.”
Before submitting the ad to Elections BC, ICBA had it reviewed by legal counsel from two different law firms, both of whom said the ad simply explains ICBA’s legal proceeding and did not promote or oppose any referendum result. This is well within the new limitations imposed by the government since the ad does not recommend that people vote in any particular way.
Out of an abundance of caution – with fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars that Elections BC could impose, and the rules clearly tilted toward a yes vote on prop rep – ICBA sent the ad and the legal advice to Elections BC to ensure it was good to run.
But Elections BC ignored the independent legal advice and ruled ICBA would be breaking the law if the ad was published.
“A government should act in good faith as a neutral arbiter providing British Columbians with a clear choice, requiring a clear majority of voters to support this significant change in our democracy,” said Gardner. “Rather than encourage debate they have limited the ability of voters to participate, severely restricted free speech, rushed the vote, lowered the threshold for approval and have given voters a set of extremely confusing and complicated choices.”
Said Gardner, “This is an affront to our democracy and diminishes our politics – British Columbians deserve better from this government,”
The proposed advertisement can be viewed HERE.