Fight HST Leader Bill Vander Zalm is calling for the resignation of Elections BC Acting Chief Electoral Officer Craig James in the wake of James' decision to reject the application for Recall by Oak Bay-Gordon Head proponent Michael Roy Hayes on the basis that the Recall statement attached to the petition application is “too long”.
Vander Zalm says in a letter to Recall proponent Hayes, James said he considers the words “MLA” and “HST” to be not two words, but a total of eight words (Member of the Legislative Assembly and Harmonized Sales Tax) on each reference, resulting in the application statement exceeding the 200 word allotment.
“This simply continues the same pattern of obstruction that has characterized Elections BC since Craig James was appointed by Premier Gordon Campbell to take over. If there were restrictions on acronyms, that information should have been given to the applicants at the time they were handed their application. But it wasn’t because Craig James obviously made it up yesterday when he decided this would be another way to serve his BC Liberal masters by trying to sabotage the Recall petition. It is outrageous!” Vander Zalm said.
Colin Nielsen, the Lead Organizer for the Oak Bay-Gordon Head Recall says he has also been told that since the application was rejected, over 150 canvasser applications must also be re-done and re-signed.
“This is a deliberate attempt to blow us out of the water before the Christmas break. All Elections BC had to do was call us up and let us know there was a ‘technical glitch’ and we could have easily fixed it. But James is doing everything he can to try to thwart the democratic process rather than facilitate it. It’s like he’s making up the rules as he goes along,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen says he and proponent Hayes plan to return immediately to Elections BC on Thursday with the revised petition application and the existing canvasser applications to demand that the application process be facilitated.
“Enough is enough. This has got to stop. There is no reason to make us waste weeks trying to re-do all of the canvasser application again. It is like we are living in some sort of banana republic run by corrupt officials,” said Nielsen.
Vander Zalm says the latest decision by James is part of a pattern of obstruction regarding the Fight HST group. “The Acting CEO was appointed by the government, not the BC Legislature. He does not enjoy the independence and support required to be effective in this critical role as guardian of the democratic process.”
Vander Zalm says that since taking office, Acting CEO James has made a number of questionable decisions that have led many in the public to conclude he is not acting independently of the BC Government, as follows:
- James ruled that a BC Liberal government web site which contained dozens of HST advocacy videos at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars did not qualify as “Initiative advertising” even though the web site by Fight HST did.
- When the petition to end the HST was completed and validated, James refused to forward it to the Standing Committee of the Legislature as required by the Initiative Act, forcing the Fight HST proponents to get the Supreme Court to order Elections BC to submit the petition, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars to private citizens.
- James has undertaken a major overhaul of the Elections BC management structure, including firing deputy Chief Electoral Officer Linda Johnson, a 28 year veteran of the agency who also happened to rule against the BC Liberal government’s planned mailout during the petition.
- James sent intimidating letters to over 2,000 British Columbians, including numerous elderly citizens who accidentally signed the Initiative petition twice, threatening them with two years in jail and $10,000 fines only one week before Recalls were set to begin and over three months after the petition had been counted and validated.
- James has gone on record as saying that a referendum on the HST will take between one year and nine months to conduct, even though entire province wide elections have been held in the past within 4 weeks of a government giving notice to EBC that it has dropped the writ.
“Now he is telling the people of Oak Bay-Gordon Head their application for a Recall has been rejected because common acronyms like HST and MLA are actually eight words. It would be laughable if it weren’t so serious,” said Vander Zalm.
“This time he has gone too far. We call on Craig James to admit he has lost the confidence of the people of BC and done irreparable damage to the independent reputation of Elections BC, and resign. Failing that, we call on the premier to remove him and we call on the entire BC Liberal caucus and all of the potential leadership candidates to immediately denounce this charade,” Vander Zalm concluded.
To comment on the article or to view the EBC Documrnts, click here. This article is a press release from Fight HST.