Professor Patrick Smith comments on proposed reforms to City of Vancouver elections

January 25, 2017

Urban Studies professor Patrick Smith (cross-appointed to political science) was sought out for comment on the recently released report and recommendations of the "Independent Election Task Force" struck by the City of Vancouver. Goals of the task force included addressing low voter turnout and questions of campaign financing.

The task force recommended, among other things, that the city take steps to reform the financing of municipal election campaigns, allow non-citizens to vote and adopt a proportional representation system. The full report is available here.

On January 25, professor Smith told CBC Radio's The Early Edition, "The city is to be commended for moving this discussion along…. I have some queries with the do-ability of each of [the recommendations], but some are more likely than others."

CBC Radio host Rick Clough noted that in Vancouver's last civic election campaign, the two major civic parties spent a combined total of $5.8 millon on their campaigns, and asked how that level of spending compares to other large Canadian cities.

“There’s no comparison," professor Smith noted. "Every other jurisdiction has limits put on political contributions and reporting on contributions. We have some disclosure provisions, but they are pretty minimal….It’s pretty messy out there in the world of electoral finance in B.C.”

Listen to the complete interview here, starting at 1:41:30.

Professor Smith was also quoted in a Globe and Mail story on the same topic. 

Recent Urban Studies alumni Mark Friesen was a member of the task force that produced the report.