Bitcoin donations allowed in B.C. municipal elections

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      Three years ago, Jason Lamarche sought a Vancouver council seat and garnered 37,286 votes. If the former Non-Partisan Association candidate ran again, he’d solicit donations in Bitcoin.

      Lamarche told the Georgia Straight he wants the City of Vancouver to allow residents to use the cryptocurrency to pay taxes, fines, and fees. He questioned why municipal politicians aren’t talking about Bitcoin’s “disruptive” potential.

      “I’ve heard people talk about how we’re the Silicon Valley of the North,” Lamarche said by phone. “Well, when we have companies that are working on the type of innovation that we’re seeing related to Bitcoin, why aren’t we helping to promote and use this technology, which clearly has had massive uptake around the world?”

      Nola Western, deputy chief electoral officer for funding and disclosure at Elections B.C., confirmed that parties and candidates in November’s civic elections can legally accept Bitcoin donations.

      Western told the Straight that bitcoins are treated as “nonmonetary property” under the new Local Elections Campaign Financing Act, which received royal assent in May. Parties and candidates must report the Canadian-dollar value of any bitcoins received to Elections B.C.

      “Just make sure that you can establish a value on the day that you get the contribution—not the day you report the contribution to us, which would be up to 90 days after general voting day,” Western said by phone from Victoria.

      According to Western, there’s no limit on the amount of money, property, or services that donors can give to municipal parties or candidates as long as the donors provide their full name, address, and class (individual, corporation, union, et cetera). But she noted that a donor can’t give more than $50 anonymously to a given party or candidate.

      “If we see somebody getting $50,000 in anonymous Bitcoin contributions, there may be some questions around whether you really got that many $50 contributions [legitimately],” Western said.

      City of Vancouver communications manager Tobin Postma told the Straight by email that city hall has “no plans to consider accepting Bitcoin”.

      Representatives for the Coalition of Progressive Electors and the NPA said those parties don’t plan to accept Bitcoin donations. Cedar Party mayoral candidate Glen Chernen told the Straight via Twitter that his party welcomes donations in various currencies, including Bitcoin.