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HomeBusinessElections BC fines most of West Vancouver council for election advertising violations 

Elections BC fines most of West Vancouver council for election advertising violations 

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Bob Mackin

Elections BC fined five winning candidates for West Vancouver’s seven-member municipal council, including Mayor Mark Sager, for a 2022 campaign advertising violation.

In separate enforcement notices released Jan. 18, Sager was fined $200, councillors Peter Lamber and Sharon Thompson $150 each and councillors Scott Snider and Linda Watt $100 each. They all failed to include the statutory authorization line in campaign ads.

West Vancouver Mayor Mark Sager (Sager Nairne LLP)

The Local Elections Campaign Financing Act requires advertising identify the candidate or party’s financial agent, that the ad was authorized by the financial agent and to provide a B.C. phone number, email address or mailing address at which the agent may be contacted. 

Sager’s notice said a complaint was received Oct. 11 that his ads lacked the wording, but he contacted Elections BC on the same date to self-report the oversight. 

“You provided Elections BC with images of the flyers, multi-paged brochures and door hangers. You confirmed that you had amended the remaining material to add an authorization statement,” the notice said. 

Sager told Elections BC that there were 20,000 flyers and brochures mailed and 100 door hanger distributed before the error of omission was identified. Invoices showed the cost was $18,615.16, which was shared with Lambur, Snider, Thompson and Watt.

Elections BC could have fined each up to $5,000 under the law, but took into account several mitigating factors. In Sager’s case, his self-reporting, cooperative amendment of ads where possible and lack of previous violation.

“The lack of an authorization statement would not likely have misled a reader to conclude that the signs were sponsored by another individual or organization – the transparency purpose of the Act had been substantially met,” said the notice from director of investigations Adam Barnes.

Sager is facing bigger trouble from the Law Society of B.C., which alleges he committed professional misconduct, conduct unbecoming a lawyer and breach of the Legal Profession Act. 

Ex-West Vancouver Mayor Mary-Ann Booth (Twitter)

The founding partner of the Sager Nairne law firm in West Vancouver is accused of withdrawing up to $40,000 in execution fees and $24,113.25 in management fees without authorization and improperly withdrawing $8,801.03 from a trust. Sager is disputing the allegations, none of which have been proven. A hearing is expected later this year.  

The citation was originally issued Sept. 29, but Sager appealed and disclosure was delayed until six weeks after voters returned him to the mayoralty 26 years after his first time in office. 

Sager narrowly lost in the 2018 election to Mary Ann Booth after he was cited for another misconduct. 

In 2020, the Law Society fined Sager $20,000 and ordered him to pay $20,000 in legal costs for conflict of interest after he accepted a $75,000 gift from his godmother and rewrote her will.  

Meanwhile, the deadline for all candidates and parties in the 2022 local government elections to submit their campaign finance returns was Jan. 13. 

“After the filing deadline it will take us some time to enter the reports and campaign contributions into [the database],” Elections BC spokesperson Andrew Watson said. “We’re targeting the end of the month for publication and will distribute an advisory once the reports are available.”

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