|Kash Heed & ex-Premier Gordon Campbell at 2009 cabinet swearing-in|
It has allowed Kash Heed to retain his Vancouver-Fraserview seat as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia despite the BC Liberal Party admitting it overspent the $70,000 limit by an extra $5,000 in the 2009 election campaign.
Elections BC's lawyer Donald Farquhar told the Vancouver Sun that the independent agency would not ask for Heed's seat to be declared vacation.
"We're not contending that he [Heed] acted in bad faith. So if he can establish for the satisfaction of the court he acted in good faith -and we're not contending otherwise -then he would not have his seat vacated," Farquhar said. "But we are asking that he pay the penalty, which is two times the amount of the excess spending."
Heed's campaign manager Barinder Sall is facing criminal charges and Election Act charges for allegedly creating a vicious and defamatory anti-New Democratic Party leaflet and distributing it in the riding in the final days of the campaign. Alleged leaflet printer Dinesh Khanna also faces charges.
NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu was robbed in that election - cheated out of winning the seat. Now he is being mugged by Elections BC.
Heed's lawyer David Gruber told media outside a BC Supreme Court hearing in Kelowna where Chief Justice Robert Bauman heard the case that his client had no knowledge of the overspending or of the sleazly leaflet, which accused the NDP of being in favour of everything from legalizing cocaine and prostitution to imposing a death tax.
Fair enough - we'll take the former BC Liberal Solicitor-General and former West Vancouver Police Chief at his word. And wait for Sall and Khanna's trial to hear more.
But the BC Liberal Party overspent the legal limits in that riding by $5,000 - that's an undisputed fact.
Someone, somewhere knew that was cheating, that it was illegal and that the penalty could be voiding the election results.
Heed didn't do his job as a politician. Heed didn't check the finances or look at the paperwork or ensure that the spending limit was not exceeded.
And not by a few cents. By $5,000 - 7% more than allowed. The money that was spent on an absolutely despicable flyer aimed at scaring members of the Chinese-Canadian community into voting against Yiu - the NDP's excellent candidate.
Heed won by less than 800 votes - $5,000 could have made the difference between winning and losing.
So regardless of Heed's ignorance of the law - rather ironic for BC's former top cop - the price for overspending should be a by-election. Instead, Elections BC's lawyer
Heed should be free to run again and face Vancouver-Fraserview voters and Gabriel Yiu a second time - if he dares.
But if Elections BC allows any candidate from any party to flagrantly overspend the limit and retain the seat won through cheating - by claiming ignorance of campaign spending laws - it will happen again and again.
And that's rotten.