Qp Date

Recall and Initiative Act

[RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 398

Part 6 — Initiative Communications

Division 1 — General

Initiative advertising and opinion surveys

85  (1) For the purposes of this Act, initiative advertising is advertising used

(a) during an initiative petition period to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the initiative petition or draft Bill, or

(b) during an initiative vote period to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the initiative.

(2) For the purposes of this Act, an initiative opinion survey is an opinion survey respecting an initiative petition, draft Bill or initiative vote, including a matter publicly discussed in relation to the initiative petition, draft Bill or initiative vote.

Sponsorship of initiative advertising

86  (1) For the purposes of this Part, the sponsor of initiative advertising or an initiative opinion survey is whichever of the following is applicable:

(a) the individual or organization who pays for the initiative advertising or initiative opinion survey to be conducted;

(b) if the services of conducting the advertising or survey are provided without charge as a contribution, the individual or organization to whom the services are provided as a contribution;

(c) if the individual or organization who is the sponsor within the meaning of paragraph (a) or (b) is acting on behalf of another individual or organization, the other individual or organization.

(2) Where this Part requires the inclusion of a mailing address or telephone number at which a sponsor can be contacted,

(a) any mailing address given must be within British Columbia,

(b) any telephone number given must be that of a place within British Columbia, and

(c) the sponsor must make available an individual to be responsible for answering questions from the public that are directed to the address or telephone number.

(3) Where this Part requires a sponsor to be identified, for a numbered corporation or an unincorporated organization the identification must include both

(a) the name of the organization, and

(b) the name of an individual director or, if there are no individual directors, an individual who is a principal officer or a principal member of the organization.

(4) On request of the chief electoral officer,

(a) an individual identified as a sponsor, or

(b) an individual identified as a director, principal officer or principal member of an organization identified as a sponsor

must file with the chief electoral officer a solemn declaration that the identified sponsor is in fact the sponsor and that the sponsor has not contravened this Part.

No indirect sponsorship of initiative advertising

87  An individual or organization must not sponsor initiative advertising with the property of any other individual or organization or indirectly through any other individual or organization.

Initiative advertising must identify sponsor

88  An individual or organization must not sponsor or conduct any initiative advertising unless the advertising

(a) identifies the name of the sponsor or, in the case of an authorized participant, the name of the financial agent,

(b) if applicable, indicates that the sponsor is a registered sponsor under this Act,

(c) indicates that it was authorized by the identified sponsor or financial agent, and

(d) gives a telephone number or mailing address at which the sponsor or financial agent may be contacted regarding the advertising.

Restriction on rates charged for initiative advertising

89  An individual or organization must not charge a rate for initiative advertising in a periodical publication or on radio or television that exceeds the lowest rate charged by the individual or organization for equivalent advertising in the same medium during the same initiative petition period or initiative vote period.

Prohibition against certain initiative advertising on general voting day

90  (1) On general voting day for an initiative vote, an individual or organization must not conduct initiative advertising by publishing it in a newspaper or magazine or on radio or television.

(2) An individual or organization must not sponsor or agree to sponsor initiative advertising that is or is to be conducted on general voting day by a means referred to in subsection (1), whether the publication is done within British Columbia or outside British Columbia.

Restrictions on initiative campaigning near voting places

91  (1) During an initiative vote period, an individual or organization must not post, display or disseminate initiative advertising in or within 100 metres of the building where the office of the district electoral officer is located.

(2) While advance voting or general voting for an initiative vote is being conducted at a voting place, an individual or organization must not do any of the following in or within 100 metres of the building where the voting is being conducted:

(a) post, display or disseminate initiative advertising;

(b) canvass or solicit votes or otherwise attempt to influence how a voter votes;

(c) carry, wear or supply a flag, badge or other thing indicating that the individual using it is a supporter of a particular response to an initiative;

(d) post, display, disseminate or openly leave a representation of a ballot marked for a particular response to an initiative.

(3) If subsection (1) or (2) is being contravened by the posting or display of materials, the district electoral officer or another election official authorized by the district electoral officer may enter on the property where the materials are located and remove or cover or otherwise obscure them from view.

(4) While advance voting or general voting is being conducted at a voting place for an initiative vote, an individual or organization must not conduct initiative advertising by means of a public address system or loudspeaker that is within hearing distance of the voting place.

Requirements for publication of initiative opinion surveys

92  (1) During an initiative petition period or an initiative vote period, an individual or organization who first publishes in British Columbia the results of an initiative opinion survey must publish the following information with the results of the survey:

(a) the name of the sponsor of the survey;

(b) the name of the individual or organization who conducted the survey;

(c) the dates when the survey was conducted;

(d) to the extent that the information is applicable to the survey, the number of individuals contacted for the survey and the percentage of those who refused to take part in the survey;

(e) to the extent that the information is applicable to the survey, the margin of error for the survey;

(f) the exact wording of each question in the survey for which data are reported;

(g) for each question for which the margin of error is greater than that reported under paragraph (e), the margin of error for the question;

(h) a mailing address or telephone number, indicating it as the address or telephone number at which the sponsor can be contacted to obtain a written report regarding the survey in accordance with subsection (3).

(2) If the results of an initiative opinion survey are to be published without the authorization of the sponsor, at least 24 hours before first publication, the individual or organization who publishes the results must notify the sponsor so that the report required under subsection (3) can be prepared.

(3) From the time of the first publication of an initiative opinion survey until the end of the initiative petition period or initiative vote period, as applicable, whether the publication is done within British Columbia or outside British Columbia, the sponsor must provide on request a copy of a written report on the results of the survey, published as referred to in subsection (1), including the following information to the extent that the information is applicable to the survey:

(a) the name and address of the sponsor of the survey;

(b) the name and address of the individual or organization who conducted the survey;

(c) the dates when the survey was conducted;

(d) the exact wording of each question for which data are reported;

(e) the method used to collect the information in the survey;

(f) the population from which the sample in the survey was drawn;

(g) the size of the initial sample and the number of individuals contacted for the survey;

(h) the number and percentage of individuals contacted who answered the survey;

(i) the number and percentage of individuals contacted who refused to take part in the survey;

(j) the method used to recalculate percentages when those who expressed no opinion or those who did not respond are omitted from the survey;

(k) the times of any interviews;

(l) the sampling method;

(m) the number of ineligible individuals contacted;

(n) any weighting factors or normalization procedures used;

(o) the margin of error for the survey.

(4) A fee may be charged for a report provided under subsection (3), but the fee

(a) must be based on the reasonable costs of reproducing the original report prepared for the purposes of that subsection, and

(b) in any case, must not be more than the applicable amount under section 235 (4) (b) of the Election Act.

Division 2 — Initiative Advertising Limits

Advertising limits

93  (1) An authorized participant for an initiative petition may incur initiative advertising as an initiative petition expense and an authorized participant for an initiative vote may incur initiative advertising as an initiative vote expense, subject to the applicable expenses limit.

(2) Other than initiative advertising referred to in subsection (1), an individual or organization must not sponsor initiative advertising during an initiative petition period or an initiative vote period

(a) such that the total value of that initiative advertising is greater than $5 000 or a higher amount established by regulation, or

(b) in combination with one or more individuals or organizations, or both, such that the total value of the initiative advertising sponsored by those individuals and organizations during that period is greater than $5 000 or a higher amount established by regulation.

(3) As an exception to subsection (2), the value of initiative advertising that is conducted by sending a document directly to the members, employees or shareholders of the sponsoring individual or organization is not to be included for the purposes of determining whether the individual or organization has complied with that subsection.

(4) An individual or organization must not conduct initiative advertising if, by this, the sponsor would contravene subsection (2).

Penalties for exceeding initiative advertising limit

94  (1) Unless relief is granted by a court under section 95, if a sponsor exceeds an initiative advertising limit, the sponsor

(a) is deregistered as a sponsor under Division 3 of this Part, and

(b) must pay to the chief electoral officer a penalty of 10 times the amount by which the value of the initiative advertising sponsored by the sponsor exceeds the limit.

(2) In the case of a sponsor that is an unincorporated organization, the members of the organization are jointly and separately liable to pay the penalty under subsection (1).

(3) A penalty referred to in subsection (1) is effective as follows:

(a) if no application under section 95 is made in respect of the sponsor, at the end of the period for making such an application;

(b) if, on the final determination of an application under section 95, the court refuses to grant relief from the penalty, at the time of that determination.

Court order for relief from advertising limit

95  (1) A sponsor may apply to the Supreme Court in accordance with this section for relief from section 94.

(2) An application may be made only within 58 days after the end of the initiative petition period or initiative vote period, as applicable, in relation to which the advertising limit was exceeded.

(3) Within 7 days after it is filed, the petition commencing an application must be served on the chief electoral officer.

(4) The sponsor and the chief electoral officer are parties to the application.

(5) On the hearing of an application, the court may

(a) grant relief if the court considers that, in relation to the non-compliance, the sponsor acted in good faith, or

(b) refuse to grant relief.

Division 3 — Registration of Sponsors

Initiative advertising sponsors must be registered

96  (1) Subject to subsection (2), an individual or organization who is not registered under this Division must not sponsor initiative advertising.

(2) An authorized participant is not required to be registered to sponsor initiative advertising in relation to the initiative petition or initiative vote for which the individual or organization is an authorized participant.

Registration with chief electoral officer

97  (1) An individual or organization who wishes to become a registered sponsor in relation to an initiative petition or an initiative vote must file an application in accordance with this section with the chief electoral officer.

(2) An application must include the following:

(a) the full name of the applicant and, in the case of an applicant organization that has a different usual name, this usual name;

(b) the full address of the applicant;

(c) in the case of an applicant organization, the names of the principal officers of the organization or, if there are no principal officers, of the principal members of the organization;

(d) an address at which notices and communications under this Act and other communications will be accepted as served on or otherwise delivered to the individual or organization;

(e) a telephone number at which the applicant can be contacted;

(f) identification of the initiative petition or initiative vote in relation to which the applicant wishes to be registered as a sponsor;

(g) any other information required by regulation to be included.

(3) An application must

(a) be signed, as applicable, by the individual applicant or, in the case of an applicant organization, by 2 principal officers of the organization or, if there are no principal officers, by 2 principal members of the organization, and

(b) be accompanied by a solemn declaration of an individual who signed the application under paragraph (a) that the applicant is not prohibited from being registered by section 99.

(4) The chief electoral officer may require applications to be in a specified form.

(5) As soon as practicable after receiving an application, if satisfied that the requirements of this section are met by an applicant, the chief electoral officer must register the applicant as a registered sponsor in the register maintained by the chief electoral officer for this purpose.

(6) If there is any change in the information referred to in subsection (2) for a registered sponsor, the sponsor must file with the chief electoral officer written notice of the change within 15 days after it occurs.

(7) A notice or other communication that is required or authorized under this Act to be given to a sponsor is deemed to have been given if it is delivered to the applicable address filed under this section with the chief electoral officer.

Obligations of registered sponsor

98  (1) The identification of a registered sponsor referred to in section 88 must be a name filed by the sponsor under section 97 with the chief electoral officer.

(2) An individual or organization who is registered or required to be registered as a sponsor must maintain records of the following information in respect of contributions received by the sponsor:

(a) in the case of anonymous contributions, the date on which the contributions were received, the total amount received on each date and, if applicable, the event at which they were received;

(b) in other cases, the information referred to in section 45 (1) (a) to (e), with the class of contributor recorded in accordance with section 101.

Limit on registration

99  An individual or organization who is subject to a penalty under this Part or for whom a required report under this Part is not filed is not entitled to be registered as a sponsor until all such outstanding reports are filed and all such outstanding penalties are paid.

Division 4 — Disclosure of Independent Initiative Advertising

Independent sponsors must file disclosure reports

100  (1) Subject to subsection (2), if an individual or organization sponsors, during an initiative petition period or an initiative vote period, initiative advertising that has a total value of $500 or a higher amount established by regulation, the sponsor must file with the chief electoral officer an initiative advertising disclosure report in accordance with this section and section 101.

(2) The report under subsection (1) must be filed as follows:

(a) in the case of initiative advertising during an initiative petition period, within 28 days after the end of the initiative petition period;

(b) in the case of initiative advertising during an initiative vote period, within 90 days after the end of the initiative vote period.

(3) An authorized participant for the initiative petition or initiative vote in relation to which the advertising was sponsored is not required to file a report under this section.

(4) A sponsor must file a supplementary report with the chief electoral officer if any of the information required to be disclosed in an initiative advertising disclosure report changes or if the sponsor becomes aware that the report does not accurately and completely disclose that information.

(5) A supplementary report under subsection (4) must be filed as follows:

(a) in the case of a report in relation to initiative advertising during an initiative petition period, within the equivalent period under section 50 (3) after the sponsor becomes aware of the facts in relation to which the report is required;

(b) in the case of a report in relation to initiative advertising during an initiative vote period, within the equivalent period under section 76 (3) after the sponsor becomes aware of the facts in relation to which the report is required.

Contents of disclosure report

101  (1) An initiative advertising disclosure report must be in the form prescribed by regulation and must include the following information:

(a) the value of the initiative advertising sponsored by the sponsor, reported by class as required by regulation;

(b) the amount of the contributions accepted by the sponsor during the period,

(i)   beginning 6 months before the initiative petition was issued and ending at the end of the initiative petition period, in the case of advertising in relation to an initiative petition, and

(ii)   beginning 6 months before general voting day for the initiative vote and ending at the end of the initiative vote period, in the case of advertising in relation to an initiative vote,

reported in accordance with subsections (2) to (4);

(c) any amount of the sponsor's assets, other than assets received by way of contribution reported under paragraph (b), that was used to pay for the initiative advertising sponsored by the sponsor;

(d) any other information required by regulation to be included.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) (b), amounts accepted from contributors must be reported separately for each of the following classes of contributor:

(a) individuals;

(b) corporations;

(c) unincorporated organizations engaged in business or commercial activity;

(d) trade unions;

(e) non-profit organizations;

(f) other identifiable contributors;

(g) anonymous contributors.

(3) If the records of the sponsor indicate that, during the period for which contributions are required to be reported, a contributor made one or more contributions of money that, in total, have a value of more than $250 or a higher amount established by regulation, the report under this section must include the following:

(a) the full name of the individual;

(b) the class of the contributor as referred to in subsection (2);

(c) if the contributor is a numbered corporation or an unincorporated organization, the full names and addresses of at least 2 individuals

(i)   who are directors of the organization, or

(ii)   if there are no individual directors, who are principal officers or principal members of the organization;

(d) the value of each contribution and the date on which it was made.

(4) For anonymous contributions, the report under this section must include the dates on which the contributions were received, the amounts received on each date and, if applicable, the events at which they were received.

(5) A report under this section must be accompanied by a signed declaration of the individual sponsor or, in the case of an organization, by a principal officer of the organization or, if there are no principal officers, by a principal member of the organization, as to the accuracy of the report.

(6) As a limit on the reporting obligations under this section, the obligation of a sponsor in relation to contributions accepted before the initiative petition period or initiative vote period to which the report relates is that reasonable effort must be made to report the information required under this section.

Late filing of reports

102  If a sponsor fails to file a report under section 100 with the chief electoral officer within the time period established by that section or by a court under section 104, on payment to the chief electoral officer of a late filing fee equivalent to the applicable amount under section 220 (5) (b) of the Election Act, the report may be filed within 30 days after the end of the time period under section 100 or before a later date permitted by a court under section 104.

Failure to file reports

103  (1) Unless relief is granted by a court on an application under section 104 commenced before the end of the late filing period under section 102, if an initiative advertising disclosure report is not filed with the chief electoral officer before the end of that period, the sponsor

(a) is deregistered as a sponsor under Division 3 of this Part, and

(b) must pay to the chief electoral officer a penalty equivalent to the applicable amount under section 220 (5) (b) of the Election Act for each day after the last day on which it may be filed under section 102 up to the date on which it is in fact filed.

(2) In the case of a sponsor that is an unincorporated organization, the members of the organization are jointly and separately liable to pay the penalty under subsection (1) (b).

(3) The penalties referred to in subsection (1) are effective as follows:

(a) if no application under section 104 is made in respect of the sponsor, at the end of the period for making such an application;

(b) if, on the final determination of an application under section 104, the court refuses to grant relief from the penalty, at the time of that determination.

Court order for relief from filing obligations

104  (1) A sponsor subject to section 102 or 103 may apply to the Supreme Court in accordance with this section for relief from an obligation to file an initiative advertising disclosure report or from a penalty in relation to the filing of such a report.

(2) An application may be made only,

(a) in the case of a report in relation to an initiative petition, within the applicable period under section 57 (2), or

(b) in the case of a report in relation to an initiative vote, within the applicable period under section 83 (2).

(3) Within 7 days after it is filed, the petition commencing an application must be served on the chief electoral officer.

(4) The applicant and the chief electoral officer are parties to the application.

(5) On the hearing of an application, the court may do the following:

(a) relieve the sponsor from the obligation to file the report, or from specified obligations in relation to the report, if the court considers that, in relation to the non-compliance, the sponsor acted in good faith;

(b) grant an extension of the time for filing the report without payment of a late filing fee under section 102 if

(i)   the application is commenced before the end of the time for filing without penalty, and

(ii)   the court considers that, in relation to the non-compliance, the sponsor acted in good faith;

(c) grant an extension of the time for filing the report, subject to payment of the late filing fee under section 102, if the court considers that, in relation to the non-compliance, the sponsor acted in good faith;

(d) make any order the court considers appropriate to secure compliance with this Act and the regulations to the extent the court considers reasonable in the circumstances;

(e) refuse to grant an extension or other relief.

Obligation to maintain records

105  An individual or organization who is or has been a sponsor of initiative advertising must

(a) ensure that the records required for the purposes of this Part are maintained in British Columbia, and

(b) retain those records for at least 5 years, or a longer period specified by the chief electoral officer, from the date of filing of a report required under this Division in relation to those records.

Publication of initiative advertising summary

106  As soon as practicable after an initiative advertising disclosure report under this Division is received, the chief electoral officer must publish a report including the following:

(a) the name of the sponsor for whom it is filed;

(b) an identification of the relevant initiative petition or initiative vote;

(c) a summary of the information included in the report.

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