Fight HST organizers fuming after first recall campaign rejected

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      Bill Vander Zalm is calling for the resignation of the acting chief electoral officer after the first application to recall a Liberal MLA was rejected on the grounds that it was too long.

      In a letter to Michael Hayes, the proponent of the campaign to recall Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong, acting chief electoral officer Craig James wrote that the statement submitted with the application "exceeded the 200 word limit".

      Chris Delaney, one of the Fight HST campaign organizers, said the application was rejected because the acronyms MLA and HST were considered to be eight words, rather than two.

      Fight HST organizer Bill Vander Zalm is calling for James’s resignation following the rejection of the application.

      “It’s sort of the straw that broke the camel’s back, this pattern of obstruction from Elections B.C. ever since Craig James became acting electoral officer,” Delaney told the Straight by phone. “It’s a deliberate attempt to sabotage the recall process.”

      Michael Hayes, the proponent of the Oak Bay-Gordon Head recall campaign, said he delivered a revised application to Elections B.C. in Victoria today, and he has requested a meeting with the acting chief electoral officer.

      "We're extremely angry at what we see as a continued manipulation of the process and interference from Mr. Craig James," he said.

      Hayes said he has re-filed the application with a revised petition statement, but they were told they couldn't use the 150 signed canvasser applications that were submitted with the original submission.

      "The issue that is outstanding for us is that Mr. James is saying that the canvasser applications...are now invalid, that they were attached to the original application and that we must now get new canvasser applications from everyone," he told the Straight by phone today (November 25).

      "We've asked to be shown where in the act that's stated, and we haven't had a reply to that yet."

      An Elections B.C. staff member said they would not be making any comment.

      Comments

      23 Comments

      Island Man

      Nov 25, 2010 at 11:28am

      The one that should be arrested is Craig James

      glen p robbins

      Nov 25, 2010 at 11:46am

      If I were advising George Abbott, I would tell him to phone Craig James personally - and let him know if he becomes premier the first thing he will do is move the Referendum up and the second will be to fire him.

      Imagine, pulling this stunt on the day you announce your leadership.

      A

      Nov 25, 2010 at 11:47am

      This is beginning to smell...if you don't agree with us you should resign be recalled etc...no room for dissenting opinions with this group and laws, rules and regualtions do not apply to them...I didn't like the HST but these people are starting to irk me.

      RonS

      Nov 25, 2010 at 11:48am

      Well they have thrown down the gauntlet haven't they. Once this mess is finally over in the 2013 election it's time for a house cleaning. A total overhaul of the beaurocracy is needed. Toss out all pro-business bureauocrats and get people with the Province in mind as a first priority. I have no sympathy for beaurocrats that have impeded democracy. Clear them all out, fire everyone in the PAB and top ministry officials.

      Gil Luckham

      Nov 25, 2010 at 12:03pm

      In his letter to the proponent, the Acting Chief Electoral Officer referred him to the provisions in the Recall and Initiative Act that are to be complied with.

      He was referred to section 19(2)(c) of Recall and Initiative Act - Number of words in proponent statement -

      "Elections BC will count the number of words in the statement as if the written statement was being read aloud. Further, abbreviations, numerals, acronyms and initialisms will be read as if they were written in full."

      Here we go again with these people, who are using the Recall and Initiative Act and don't want to comply with the rules. Maybe it is time that they get out of the game! Enough already.

      FromBCeh

      Nov 25, 2010 at 1:24pm

      This ruling on word counts is clearly an attempt to disqualify a valid recall campaign. Craig James exceeded his legislated authority when he refused to submit the successful HST petition to the Legislature, and now he is showing that he is truly partisan by making up new rules (acronyms count as multiple words) in order to obstruct citizens engaged in the democratic process. His actions are an embarrassment to the public service and an insult to the reputation of independence of Elections BC. Resign NOW!

      David S

      Nov 25, 2010 at 1:41pm

      Agree or disagree with HST or any of the other guidelines in place to protect everyone, however it seems the recall proponents would rather here their voices rise up than follow simple procedures. This may look bad on Government, but I respectfully submit, it is beginning to look very bad on Mr. Vander Zalm. If in fact this government goes down to defeat in 2 years, I feel sorry for the new government who replaces them. Memories can be short, and I see much of the same useless rhetoric in our futures.

      Bruno15

      Nov 25, 2010 at 3:39pm

      Clearly this "issue" this morning was drummed up by Zalm and his merry band of swashbuckling recallers. Could the legislation be any clearer on the use of acronyms??

      They don't have a marketing budget so they hit the mornig news with these phony issues to get everyone a bit more motivated. Pathetic.

      14 9Rating: +5

      glen p robbins

      Nov 25, 2010 at 3:57pm

      Thanks Gil - the website says 200 words or less. The section you quote appears to be the only depiction of how the application and words are to be dealt with. Vander Zalm asserts in his news release:

      DELTA – Fight HST Leader Bill Vander Zalm is calling for the resignation of Elections BC Acting Chief Electoral Officer Craig James in the wake of his 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.

      Craig James needs to explain what Elections BC is doing here---or hunting starts.

      Taxed Mann

      Nov 25, 2010 at 4:06pm

      In my experience bureaucratic behaviour falls in a range. At one end is what I consider "good" bureaucrats. Their actions are guided by an awareness that they are paid by taxpayers to serve the public If someone isn't clear about rules that are ambiguous, they are helpful, explain to the applicant how the rules are interpreted, and keep things moving efficiently.

      At the other end is the "bad" bureaucrats. Their behaviour is obstructionist. They have an exaggerated opinion of themselves and the roles they play in society. If you don't cross every "I" and dot every "T" according to their unstated or ambiguous rules, they will use their authority to impede you with complete intransigence to the inconvenience and cost. They're like a flag-person on a deserted back road that will make an ambulance stop and wait, for no reason other than someone gave them the authority to make an ambulance stop and wait. Chances are their classmates in high school thought they were dorks and unless they grow up they will be dorks all their lives.

      Whether I agree with recall or not, it seems to me that the opportunity was there to facilitate rather than obstruct by courteously pointing out to the applicant that acronyms will be interpreted as more than one word. I can't find where the Act says one way or the other. But acting expediently deprives a bureaucrat the opportunity to puff himself up and raise his department's profile. It also can indicate that the bureaucrat is partisan when he is not supposed to be.