British Columbia

Elections B.C. investigating 12 civic parties for possibly breaking campaign finance rules

A dozen municipal political parties in Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond, Langley Township and Kelowna are being probed by Elections B.C. for possibly breaking campaign financing laws during the 2022 civic elections.

Elections administrator says no wrongdoing confirmed thus far, but financial penalties are possible

A sign at a Vancouver polling station directs voters to the ballot box during the 2022 civic elections.
A dozen municipal political parties in British Columbia are being investigated for possible campaign finance violations in the 2022 civic elections. (Justine Boulin/CBC)

A dozen municipal political parties in Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond, Langley Township and Kelowna are being probed by Elections B.C. for possibly breaking campaign financing laws during the 2022 civic elections.

The investigations are looking into one of three possible contraventions: accepting prohibited contributions, failing to deal with prohibited contributions as the law requires and sponsoring election ads without an authorization statement, Elections B.C. said in a Thursday statement.

Among the parties — also termed "elector organizations" — under scrutiny are Vancouver's A Better City (ABC), the slate of Mayor Ken Sim and the city's current council majority; Contract with Langley, the banner of Mayor Eric Woodward and a council majority there; and the Burnaby Citizens Association, which holds a council majority but not the mayor's seat.

No wrongdoing has been confirmed and all parties have been co-operative thus far, Elections B.C. said. Investigations into each party are proceeding separately from one another.

Elections B.C. said the investigation was launched after reviewing and auditing campaign finance disclosures and supplementary filings.

If it's discovered that parties have broken rules, they can face enforcement action including administrative monetary penalties, Elections B.C. said, adding it will confirm if parties are complying with the law.

Here are the parties under investigation:


  • A Better City Vancouver (ABC Vancouver)

  • Civic Non-Partisan Association (NPA)

  • Forward Together

  • Progress Vancouver

  • Vision Vancouver Elector Association


  • Safe Surrey Coalition Society

  • Surrey First Electors Society

  • United Surrey


  • BCA – Burnaby Citizens Association


  • Richmond Community Coalition

Langley Township

  • Contract With Langley Association


  • Spirit Alliance

Across B.C., individual candidates and political parties seeking local office spent a combined $22.1 million in the 2022 elections up from $16.2 million in 2018. 

Parties pledge to co-operate

CBC News contacted the parties named by Election B.C. via email and forms listed on their websites, however, some emails appear to be no longer active. Ten of the 12 parties weren't immediately available to comment. 

Vancouver's ABC responded with a statement that the party "is fully committed to upholding the highest standard of integrity and has always acted out of an abundance of caution in order to ensure compliance with election law."

"ABC will fully co-operate with Elections B.C. to bring this matter to a quick conclusion."

Spirit Alliance, a party that ran two candidates unsuccessfully for Kelowna council, said their situation involves a single donor who sent them money through his company, not personally. Corporate political donations are no longer permitted in B.C.

"The donation was refunded and sent by registered mail to B.C. Elections and they will receive the supporting documents shortly and the matter will be resolved accordingly," Spirit Alliance said.

Parties may simply 'screw up'

University of British Columbia political science Prof. Gerald Baier said the number of parties under investigation may reflect the growth of municipal parties in civic elections across B.C. when independents were once the norm.

"These are not organizations that have been around for decades with lots of people who've been through a few elections and know all the rules," Baier said. 

"You're really dependent on volunteers, necessarily a lot of people with the right kind of expertise on election law, much less ... accounting principles.

"So there's a lot of room for political parties to maybe screw up a little bit and this is a way of sort of making sure that they weren't screwing up in ways that were terribly to their advantage."

If errors were made out of inexperience or ignorance, that would be much less concerning than an experienced party trying to gain a competitive advantage nefariously, he said.


Liam Britten

Digital journalist

Liam Britten is an award-winning journalist for CBC Vancouver. You can contact him at or follow him on Twitter: @liam_britten.

With files from Justin McElroy