B.C. chief electoral officer to leave post before HST petition submitted

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      Harry Neufeld has a lot of things on his mind nowadays that aren’t related to his job as B.C.’s chief electoral officer.

      He’s talking about taking some time off and perhaps reinventing himself.

      In late April, according to Neufeld, he was advised by Bill Barisoff, the Speaker of the legislative assembly, that he will not be appointed to a second term.

      “My term ends on June 5,” Neufeld told the Straight in a phone interview from his residence in Victoria today (May 21).

      At around midnight on June 5, “the camper will be loaded and the next morning, we’ll be leaving,” he said.

      Neufeld’s term ends one month before the July 5 deadline for proponents of the anti-HST initiative to submit their signature sheets to B.C.’s chief electoral officer.

      Under the Recall and Initiative Act, after the petition is submitted, the chief electoral officer has 42 days to determine the results.

      The legislative assembly has struck a bipartisan committee to look for a new chief electoral officer.

      In recent weeks, Elections B.C. has twice ruled against the B.C. Liberal government on matters relating to the ongoing initiative against the harmonized sales tax.

      In late April, the electoral body decided that the government cannot mail flyers to voters in order to defend the controversial revenue measure.

      Earlier this month, Elections B.C. also dismissed a complaint by Finance Minister Colin Hansen that proponents of the anti-HST initiative were misleading the people.

      Neufeld said that he received a letter from Hansen on May 20, in which the finance minister, according to Neufeld, was “very grateful for the explanation that I gave to his complaint”.

      “I think he was frustrated,” Neufeld said. “I don’t have any doubt that he would have preferred that our ruling was that he could have advertised in the way he wanted to with regards to what he thought the benefits of the HST program were. But you know, I think after reflection, after receiving my response to his complaint, he seems quite understanding of the realities of the fact that the independent officers of the legislature are assigned to uphold the laws as they were written, and we try to do that consistently, fairly, and impartially.”

      According to Neufeld, there are three “roads” that he can explore after his term is over.

      “One would be to take another job, and all of the soft offers that I have so far are out of the country. So I’m considering whether it’s worthwhile to move to Stockholm, Sweden, or Atlanta Georgia, or Washington, D.C.,” Neufeld said, without offering more details.

      “The other options are to go into consulting, which I’ve done before in electoral management,” Neufeld said.

      “And third would be to do something different: teach, or start a business, or who knows,” Neufeld added.

      Before his appointment as B.C.’s chief electoral officer in 2002, Neufeld held positions in electoral bodies like Elections Canada. He was also an electoral management consultant with the Canadian Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and with several international organizations and electoral agencies around the world.


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      May 21, 2010 at 2:09pm

      So, let's get this straight. The Chief Electoral Officer rules against two frivolous BC Liberal complaints regarding the HST initiative and now suddenly the Speaker of the legislative assembly, a BC Liberal, has decided to not reappoint him.

      The BC Liberals are really getting out of hand with their tactics to ram the HST down the throats of British Columbians. Too bad for them the electorate is smarter than they think and they'll all soon be out of jobs.


      May 21, 2010 at 2:45pm

      It won't matter. If there is any hanky-panky whatsoever we will not screw around with the Lieberals; we will go straight to recall and topple this corrupt government!

      Mike Summers, BC Refed

      May 21, 2010 at 6:12pm

      I am livid!! Bill Barisoff, in his time as speaker, has made some pretty cowardly calls in the legislature.

      Now he has done this??? Give me a freakin' break.

      Now I'm mad. I live in Nechako Lakes and John Rustad is my MLA. Look out John. Your job is on the line.

      Kelly Masterson

      May 21, 2010 at 9:20pm

      I just hope that whoever is appointed can't compromise the HST Initiative and taint the outcome !


      May 21, 2010 at 9:51pm

      It will take them months to fill the post of Chief Electoral Officer. Do the BC Liberals think that this will postpone the petition? How bad does this make them look???
      Three cheers to Harry Neufeld for his courageous and ethical work - and all the very best to him, wherever he ends up.


      May 22, 2010 at 8:20am

      I'm so fed up with the Gordon Campbell government I can't even find words. As a long-haul trucker I bring up the topic of Prov. Govt. quite often, people keep saying. "There is no way I'll vote for the Libs if he's Premier, I can't stand the NDP so I just won't vote next time. A no-vote is the same as an NDP vote so it's looking pretty bad for B.C. next time around.


      May 22, 2010 at 8:41am

      How low can you go! They don't deserve to govern for one more day, let alone 3 more years.

      Randy Chatterjee

      May 22, 2010 at 11:00am

      If we allow our best and most dedicated public servants to be hounded from or bullied out of office for trying to uphold the law, let alone blocked from information they need to do their jobs, we will continue to have the most corrupt, ineffective, inefficient, and hated government in Canada. This culture of lawlessness is destroying both the economy and the ecology of BC. It is also having a brutal impact on social equity, rounding out the all-out attack on the tree pillars of sustainability.


      May 22, 2010 at 12:37pm

      I'm pissed and everyone who loves being Canadian and loves Living in our Province should be pissed as well and be moved to Action.

      This is a blatant attempt to interfere with our democratic process and Interfere with our ability to exercise our rights as citizens.

      Q: Did the Liberals or their Corporate buddies BRIBE or Threaten Harry?

      Their are Serious Consequences... When Harry Neufeld took the job of Chief Electoral officer he became bound by the laws of Canada to represent the best Interests of the people of British Columbia and follow the rules of the electoral process without bias. His resignation, at a pivotal time is cowardice and done with intention.

      I know it will back fire, and cause even more people to join this Fight against the HST because it's now linked to the Fundamental Rights in which of our Democracy stands on and it is intentionally being eroded.

      Now Campbell and the Liberals will really have a Fight on their hands and could possible see themselves removed from power by force. Hopefully that can be avoided, but if this abuse of power continues it could spark a New "REVOLUTION".

      It has happened in the past and it could happen again, right Here, right Now in our Province.

      Q: Does Harry realize, this Act of his will UNDERMINE our very Democracy?

      Q: Does he want to go down in History as the person who walked away from his duties and allowed our Democratic VOICE to be destroyed?

      Because the cats out of the bag and everyone now knows, the Liberals will put in his place a new chief electoral officer that will protect the Liberals best interests so they can attempt to maintain power and push the HST through.

      Q: Is their a skeleton Harry's closet about how the Liberals won the last few elections?

      He should know, People "Will" find out and Expose all those Responsible, and criminal charges will be laid and all involved will be held accountable for their crimes.

      * I sincerely believe, Harry should come clean now, and Testify against those who may have Bribed and or Threatened him.* There are no, coincidences in politics.

      My message to everyone that reads my posting.

      Defend your Democracy Now! Peacefully & within the Law.

      It's our responsibility to preserve and protect it for our children and our children's children because they have no voice in which to speak... We do! We must and WE CAN.


      May 22, 2010 at 8:14pm

      So it will go, this will undoubtedly get real ugly before it is over. Democracy is worth fighting for, just ask your parents and grandparents.