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B.C. group fined $1,000 for election ad violations

The network blames miscommunication within the organization for unregistered advertising during the election period.
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Elections BC found that the Pacific Prosperity Foundation violated election laws.

The Pacific Prosperity Foundation has been fined $1,000 for two violations under the B.C. Local Elections Campaign Financing Act and the Election Act.

The foundation failed to register as a third party before sponsoring election advertising, an investigation by Elections BC found.

Also known as the Pacific Prosperity Network (PPN), the registered society has a following of about 13,600 people on Facebook. Its website claims to promote environmental protection, economic growth, compassionate care and “rule of law with protection of personal and property rights and freedoms” under a minimalist government framework.

On its Facebook page a video claims it wants to “take back British Columbia from the radical left” and calls media lackeys, in reference to a Vancouver Sun article that reported Lululemon founder Chip Wilson as a network fundraiser.

The foundation was registered under the Societies Act June 9, 2021. Its executive director is Micah Haince and its address is that of Bennett Jones LLP on Vancouver's Burrard Street.

An Oct. 4 enforcement notice from Elections BC to Haince outlines how it violated election laws by advertising negative messages directed at NDP politicians, including Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Premier John Horgan, during the 2022 general local elections pre‐campaign period (July 18, 2022 to Sept. 16, 2022), and during the Surrey South byelection campaign period (Aug. 13, 2022 to Sept. 10, 2022)

The Election Act prohibits anyone from sponsoring election advertising unless they are already registered with Elections BC, which the network is not.

“The advertisement clearly directly opposed Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who is a candidate in the Vancouver mayoral election. The advertisement also clearly directly opposed the BC NDP, a registered political party who had an endorsed candidate in the Surrey South byelection,” stated Adam Barnes, director of investigations.

Barnes noted “the nature of this contravention was not egregious — the advertisements were published for a short period, at a cost of under $500.”

As well, “PPN has indicated that the publication of the advertisements was the result of a miscommunication within the organization, not a deliberate decision. Once contacted by Elections BC, PPN quickly and cooperatively stopped the advertisements,” stated Barnes.

gwood@glaciermedia.ca

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