B.C. government urged to ensure local candidates get criminal record checks

Elected officials privy to highly sensitive information, UBCM resolution notes

Local government election candidates should undergo criminal record checks, Union of BC Municipalities delegates voted September 23.

With no speakers addressing the resolution, the vote passed by 55%.

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The resolution before this year’s virtual annual convention said those holding local government office are elected into a position of trust and power where they have access to sensitive data and are expected to “conduct themselves in an open, transparent and accountable manner” according to the Candidate’s Guide To Local Government Elections in B.C.

But, the resolution said, there is no requirement for elected officials to submit criminal record checks despite being privy to highly sensitive information and participating in activities requiring criminal record checks.

The resolution called for amendment of the Local Government Act to include criminal record checks as part of the nomination documents submitted by candidates.

Resolution notes said while there may be a desire to establish greater transparency in the candidate nomination process, there may also be concerns that the including criminal record checks as part of that process would be an onerous additional step in that process.

In 2019, the convention approved a resolution saying conviction for acts of civil disobedience should not bar a public official from remaining in public office.

In another 2020 resolution, the UBCM called on Victoria to establish an independent office of integrity to serve the public, elected officials and local government officials in an advisory, educational and investigative role in the development, application and enforcement of codes of conduct.

Resolution notes said a set of principles and general standards that local governments can use to develop their own codes of conduct was created in 2016.

That resolution did not come to a vote as debate time expired.

The UBCM also in 2019 endorsed a resolution asking Victoria to either create a municipal conflict of interest commissioner or expand the powers of the B.C. Conflict of Interest Commissioner, in order to remedy conflict of interest complaints.

 

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

@Jhainswo 

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