Since former North Vancouver-Lonsdale NDP MLA David Schreck has the advice “Vote NDP” on his Web site, Elections BC officials contend he must register it.
The former advisor to B.C. Premiers Glen Clark and Ujjal Dosanjh has been told he must register his Web site as third-party advertising with Elections B.C. because it promotes a registered political party.
“That’s not an advertisement,” Schreck said yesterday. “ It’s no different than a letter to the editor. They’ve over-stepped their authority by a country mile.”
His site, www.strategicthoughts.com, expresses his opinion that the NDP will be wiped out this election, and suggests people vote NDP for opposition.
In 1996 the Election Act was amended to limit third-party election spending to $5,000, but three sections of the Act were struck down by the courts in February 2000 as unconstitutional. However, the court decision did not eliminate parts of the Act requiring registration and declaration for financial disclosure reports.
So, Schreck was sent a letter stating, “You therefore will be required by the Act to register with this office as a sponsor of election advertising.”
Elections B.C. spokesperson Jennifer Miller told The Outlook yesterday any advertising conducted during a campaign to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the election of a candidate or registered political party must be registered.
“Under our guide this includes all forms of advertising such as leaflets, lawn signs, billboards, brochures, newspapers, radio, television, newsletters, T-shirts, hats, buttons, public address systems and the Internet,” she said, noting that Schreck’s site contained the phrase “Vote NDP,” and therefore constitutes third-party advertising.
Schreck has sent a letter to Chief Electoral Officer Robert Patterson, noting many Internet sites and discussion groups freely debate B.C. politics.
“Rather than waste anyone’s time and effort on an attempt to regulate free speech on the Internet, could you simply retract your director’s letter?” Schreck’s letter asks.