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1993-2001 (predominantly 1996-2000) (Creation)
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4 photographs (378-04/05)
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Records in this series relate to several Recall campaigns initiated under the Recall Initiative Act, against NDP party members and other elected officials ca. 1996-2000.
The Recall and Initiative Act was first introduced by the Attorney General to the Legislative Assembly as Bill 36, in June of 1994, received Royal Assent on July 8 1994, and was brought into force by Order in Council on February 24, 1995. It was amended September 1, 1995 as a result of changes to the Election Act, and consolidated in the 1996 Revised Statutes of British Columbia as RSBC 1996 Chapter 398. As of 2011, British Columbia is the only province with Recall legislation in place. Almost immediately following the act’s adoption, the NDP found Recall campaigns initiated against several of its MLA’s, most notably in Skeena, Comox Valley, and Prince George North.
The Recall and Initiative Act is administered by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO). According to Elections BC, Recall is, “is a process that allows registered voters to petition for the removal of a Member of the Legislative Assembly between elections. Any registered voter can apply to have a petition issued for the recall of their MLA. …A Member cannot be recalled during the first 18 months after their election.” Within 60 days of successfully filing a recall petition, Recall proponents must collect signatures in support of the recall from at least 40% of the registered voters in an MLA’s riding for the motion to succeed. No specific rules or limitations govern the reasons for initiating recall. As of 2011, the CEO has overseen 24 recall campaigns, of which 23 have been unsuccessful, and in the final case, Liberal MLA Paul Reitsma resigned before the results could be tallied.
Following the 1996 Provincial election, recall campaigns were initiated in Prince George North (MLA Paul Ramsey, proponent Pertti Harkonen) and Skeena (MLA Helmut Giesbrecht, proponent G. Lorne Sexton), days after the 18 month suspension following election expired. Shortly after, another major campaign began in Comox Valley (MLA Evelyn Gillespie, proponent Robert Saint Amour). Several of these MLA’s further experienced secondary recall campaigns, but the majority of these were never submitted to the CEO within the required 60 days. A third recall campaign was initiated against Paul Ramsey (proponent former Liberal MLA Bob Viergever), but was also never submitted. In several ridings, supporters of the elected MLA’s formed anti-recall groups and campaigns, such as the Citizens for Local Democracy in Prince George North, the Skeena Taxpayer’s Association, and the Comox Valley Citizens Concerned About Fairness. A dispute between Prince George North recall proponent Pertti Harkonen and CEO Robert Patterson regarding which of the voters' lists provided by the CEO to the recall campaign should be used as the basis for determining the success or failure of the campaigns led to a judicial review, Harkonen v. Patterson. Other attempts to begin campaigns, including a “Recall Glen Clark” campaign, and a "Total Recall" campaign (in which proponents sought to recall all elected NDP officials), are also covered by the series. In 1998, following allegations of fraud, confusion around the act, and overspending on the part of MLA’s, forensic accountant Ronald Parks, of Lindquist Avey Macdonald Baskerville, was engaged by CEO Robert Patterson to investigate and report back (known as the Parks Report, 1999). In 1998, following a December 1997 interview with Paul Ramsey for the Vancouver Province (reporter Donald Hauka), Ramsey launched a libel suit against Hauka, Ben Meisner of CKPG Radio in Prince George, and Pacific Press for misinterpreting a statement he made, and repeating this misinterpretation with defamatory statements (Ramsey v. Pacific Press). The case was eventually settled out of court.
Records in this series include financial documents, correspondence, media clippings, public communications, copies of legislation and court documents, and other records related to recall initiatives in British Columbia.
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File 444-22, "Prov. executive May 23 Vancouver" in the "Records of the table officers, provincial executive, and provincial council" series of this fonds, contains a copy news clippings related to various recall campaigns throughout the province. File 445-09, "Table officers April 15th" contains further clippings, as does file 446-01, "Prov council Dec 5 + 6 Vancouver," as well as a brief mention of recent events in an included update by the Provincial Secretary.
File 445-01, in the same series, contains copies of two legal documents related to the Harkonen v. Patterson case, which arose in relation to the Paul Ramsey recall campaign. File 445-13 hold copies of legal documents surrounding Ramsey's libel suit against Southam Inc.
File 445-10, "Table officers May 13th" contains legal correspondence from Ian Aikenhead (of Sabatino, Moscovich & Aikenhead Barristers & Soliciters) to Brian Gardiner (Provincial Secretary) offering updates on the status of the Paul Ramsey recall campaign and its related case, Harkonen v. Patterson.
File 445-14 of the same series, "Table officers Nov 16th" contains a memo from Brian Gardiner (Provincial Secretary) on the amount of funds the Party has spent on various court cases since 1996, including the Stockell court case (Friesen v. Hammell), the Paul Ramsey libel case, other recall-related cases, and the Nanaimo Commonwealth Holding Society (NCHS) investigations.
File 447-19 of the same series contains a copy of a "Statement of Claim" court document (The BC Civil Liberties Association v. The Attorney General of BC) in which the BCCLA challenges the constitutionality of the Recall and Initiative Act, as well as some media clippings about the Total Recall initiative. See also file 447-26.
File 447-29 contains several media clippings about Recall, as does file 448-01, which also includes an NDP public response to Recall Review, and a copy of court documents related to Paul Ramsey's libel case.
File 475-13 contains correspondence between BC NDP members and Elections BC, primarily Robert A. Patterson, Chief Electoral Officer, and much of the material relates to recall.
Other related files include: 448-11 "Table officers January 20th"; 448-13 "Table officers Feb 24th"; 448-14 "March 24"; 448-15 "April 14th"; 448-16 "Table officers May19th".