Former Pouce Coupe mayor Lorraine Michetti has made an application in British Columbia’s BC Supreme Court asking for the village’s mayoral results be thrown out.
Michetti is accusing current mayor and 2022 election winner Danielle Veach with vote buying during the election - by purchasing refreshments, and food at a campaign event for voters.
While Elections BC has no provisions for accusations of vote buying – British Columbia’s Local Government Act is quite clear regarding the practice.
Division 18, subsection 161 of the LGA is very clear in the application of purchases for potential voters during an election campaign.
Voter Buying - 161 (1)In this section, "inducement" includes money, gift, valuable consideration, refreshment, entertainment, office, placement, employment and any other benefit of any kind.
(2) A person must not pay, give, lend or procure inducement for any of the following purposes:
(a) to induce a person to vote or refrain from voting;
(b) to induce a person to vote or refrain from voting for or against a particular candidate;
(c) to reward a person for having voted or refrained from voting as described in paragraph (a) or (b);
(d) to procure or induce a person to attempt to procure the election of a particular candidate, the defeat of a particular candidate or a particular result in an election;
(e) to procure or induce a person to attempt to procure the vote of an elector or the failure of an elector to vote.
(3) A person must not accept inducement
(a) to vote or refrain from voting,
(b) to vote or refrain from voting for or against a particular candidate, or
(c) as a reward for having voted or refrained from voting as described in paragraph (a) or (b).
(4) A person must not advance, pay or otherwise provide inducement, or cause inducement to be provided, knowing or with the intent that it is to be used for any of the acts prohibited by this section.
(5) A person must not offer, agree or promise to do anything otherwise prohibited by this section.
(6) A person prohibited from doing something by this section must not do the prohibited act directly, indirectly or by another person on behalf of the first person.
Penalties for contravening this are also noted in British Columbia's Local Government Act.
166 (1)A person who contravenes section 161 [vote buying] or 162 [intimidation] is guilty of an offence and is liable to one or more of the following penalties:
(a) a fine of not more than $10, 000;
(b) imprisonment for a term not longer than 2 years;
(c) disqualification from holding office in accordance with subsection (2) of this section for a period of not longer than 7 years.
(2) Disqualification under subsection (1) (c) is disqualification from holding office as follows:
(a) on a local government;
Elections BC representative Andrew Watson says their arm and extension of British Columbia’s local elections are not really part of the process.
“On our end, finances are not due to mid-January and published end of January 2023.”
“When it comes to advertising and disclosures – there are no provisions in the legislation for this.”
Michetti has been before the Supreme Court previously over the last two years – with the court twice reversing a pair of village council attempts to remove Michetti of portfolio positions.
Veach was elected in a by-election last year – and defeated Michetti by a handful of votes last month during Pouce Coupe’s October general election.
At the time, the Village had already appealed the court’s decision to return portfolio work to Michetti.
Veach has noted she will be fighting the allegations.
In addition to an accusation of vote buying – Michetti’s application also accuses Veach of libel and slander in the form of false statements during interactions with village residents.
The Dawson Creek Mirror has had discussions with representatives with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs regarding the Local Government Act.
Local governments are responsible for the administration of local elections, and local electoral officers are encouraged to reach out to Ministry staff with any questions they have regarding the local government legislation.
"If a person believes someone has committed an election offence (vote buying, intimidation or voting when not entitled), they should contact the police," said officials to the Mirror late Wednesday afternoon.