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Langley Township civic slate investigated over campaign finances

Numerous electoral organizations around the Lower Mainland looked at by Elections BC
Langley Township Mayor Eric Woodward, third from left, and his Contract With Langley councillors left to right, Steve Ferguson, Misty vanPopta, Tim Baillie, Rob Rindt, and Barb Martens, on election night in 2022. (Langley Advance Times files)

Contract With Langley, the civic slate that won a majority of seats on the Langley Township council in 2022, is under investigation by Elections BC for potential campaign finance violations.

On April 11, Elections BC announced a list of civic elector organizations that are being investigated under the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act (LECFA), including groups that ran some of the largest slates in the Lower Mainland.

All the slates and electoral organizations are under investigation for one or more of the following:

• accepting prohibited contributions

• failing to deal with prohibited contributions in accordance with LECFA, or

• sponsoring election advertising without an authorization statement.

The announcement did not specify which potential issue Contract With Langley, or the other groups on the list, may have contravened.

Other groups being investigated include NPA, Forward Together, Progress Together, Vision Vancouver, and ABC in Vancouver, the Burnaby Citizens Association, the Richmond Community Coalition, and Surrey First, Safe Surrey Coalition, and United Surrey.

Most of the organizations are based in the Lower Mainland, with the exception of Spirit Alliance in Kelowna.

In Langley Township, Contract With Langley was led by Eric Woodward, who won the mayor’s chair, along with five successful council candidates. They also won three seats on the Langley Board of Education – one of their three trustees has since left CWL.

It was the first slate to win a majority of seats on Langley Township council since 1996.

“Elections BC has confirmed that they are to inquire regarding concerns within Section 27 of the LECFA,” Woodward said. “We are waiting for more information from them regarding what follow-ups or additional information they are looking for.”

He said CWL has completed four audit inquires from Elections BC since the 2022 vote, part of the process to ensure rules are followed.

“I really value and support that, a valuable part of ensuring the public interest,” said Woodward.

“It is important to note that this seems routine at this stage given that 11 other Elector Organizations throughout the Metro Vancouver region are also included within this process to conduct some additional inquiries,” he added.

None of the investigations has concluded. If an organization is found to have broken the financing rules, they may be fined.

Campaign finances are strictly regulated in B.C. for municipal races.

Only Canadian citizens or permanent residents, who live in this province, can donate to local civic campaigns. Organizations, whether corporations, unions, or non-profits, are banned from donating to campaigns, and campaign contributions are capped at $1,250 per contributor.

Elections BC has already been investigating individual candidates for finance issues, fining a number of candidates across the province in numerous elections. In Langley City, 2022 candidate Shelley Coburn was fined $450 for accepting a contribution from an Ontario resident.

READ MORE: Langley City council candidate fined by Elections BC

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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