Sunday, June 23, 2024

Sidney mayor could lose his job over campaign overspending


Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith is in hot water after his election campaign was found to have exceeded campaign spending limits in October’s election.

The consequences are serious as the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act rules that candidates who violate the spending limits are forced to lose their seats and could face fines equal to twice the amount they over spent, unless they obtain relief from BC’s Supreme Court.

The spending limit for Sidney mayoral candidates in the 2018 municipal election was set at $11,349, but Mayor McNeil-Smith’s campaign totaled $13,226.63, nearly $2000 over the maximum.

To obtain relief from the Supreme Court, McNeil-Smith must prove that the extra spending did not “materially affect the result of the election”, and that he “exercised due diligence to ensure that the campaign period expenses did not exceed the expense limit.”

Victoria Buzz made multiple attempts to reach out to Mayor McNeill-Smith, but at the time of publication had not received a response.

According to the Times Colonist, McNeil-Smith disclosed his campaign cost to Elections BC and said he will “voluntarily” pay all fines.

McNeil-Smith pointed out his landslide victory as evidence that the extra funding did not “materially affect” the election.

McNeil-Smith won 80% of the the elections votes (3,740) compared to his competitor, former mayor Steve Price, who received 20% (929) of the votes.

“Given the results, we believe that the overspending did not materially affect the results,” McNeil-Smith told the TC.

After news broke of the overspending, former mayor Steve Price said that he was frustrated by the race’s inequality.

“Mr. McNeil-Smith should resign,” he told Victoria Buzz.

“If you have two people running and one guy runs under one set of rules and the other guy sets his own rules it’s not fair. The next election should be fair for anybody that runs so they know that they operate under the same rules and regulations as anybody else.”

The Supreme Court is set to reach a decision within a few weeks.

Adam Chan
Former Staff Writer at Victoria Buzz.

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