Moose FM has received reports that all mayoral and council candidates have been warned following a public complaint to the city’s Chief Electoral Officer about the distribution of leaflets across the city of Fort St. John.
The leaflets, which have been found on the windshields of cars in local parking lots for the past several days, urge the reader against voting for the incumbent mayor and all six incumbent council candidates. Chief Electoral Officer Janet Prestley says the content of the leaflets violates Section 152 of the Local Government Act, which is titled "Intimidation." The act states that it is an offense to "by duress, abduction or fraudulent means, compel, persuade or otherwise cause a person to vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate."
Prestley says if the RCMP receives a complaint about the leaflet from a member of the public who believes the information to be fraudulent or threatening, fines could be levied against the persons who produced and distributed it.
These fines, she says, are in the $5,000 range. Anyone convicted of participating in these activities would also be barred from running or participating in a municipal election for six years. If it’s discovered that any candidate is even aware that the offense is occurring, according to the act, they could face a myriad of consequences including disqualification.
Further, if a court deems that the leaflet did have any effect on the election results, a candidate or a group of only 4 petitioners could effectively challenge the election. Prestley says in her 19 years with the city, she’s never experienced this sort of offense before.
She adds that the election lawyers she’s spoken with say it’s not just Fort St. John, but that a trend towards these sorts of tactics may be sweeping across the province. Energeticcity.ca will continue to monitor this situation as it develops.
Attached below is the leaflet turned into the Chief Election Officer for Fort St. John. We have also attached a copy of the election act.