Tucked away in Chad Moats’ home is a garbage bag full of shredded recall petitions.
The organizer for the recall campaign against Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake said he’d keep the shredded documents for a week and then send them off to be recycled.
But the agency that oversees elections in the province and any recall efforts wants those petitions in its hands.
Elections BC is now mulling its options to get Moats to give them up.
However, Moats said if officials with Elections BC want the tattered sheets, it can have them.
The recall against Lake officially failed on April 4, after organizers couldn’t get the necessary number of signatures needed – but that only sparked the new controversy.
Instead of turning in all the signatures to Elections BC to be processed, Moats decided to shred the documents to protect the privacy of the individuals who signed them.
Doing so was a major no-no, according to Elections BC.
Don Main, communications planning officer with the agency, said under legislation, all recall petitions – successful or not – are required to be submitted.
He said the agency doesn’t verify the signatures but, as part of the process, needs to make them available for public inspection.
Main also noted there is no penalty under the act if they are not handed over.
Moats defended his decision to shred the documents, suggesting his interpretation of the act was that only completed petitions need to be returned.
He said since the recall failed and the petition was incomplete, he decided not to submit them – calling the process “redundant.”
Moats also said he offered up the shredded document to officials with Elections BC, but they declined.
When asked if shredding the signatures was a dishonor to those who signed the recall, Moats said he doesn’t see it that way at all.
Instead, he said if anything, shredding the signatures saved taxpayers money.
As Elections BC considers its next move, Moats is hoping the flap won’t become a legal issue, but said it could be a possibility.
The recall campaign against Lake managed to get 10,087 signatures, but the number is well short of the total needed for Lake to become the first MLA in the province’s history to be recalled.
In Kamloops-North Thompson, registered canvassers had 60 days to obtain the signatures of at least 15,299 registered voters, 40 per cent of the 38,246 voters registered to vote in the last provincial election.
The failure in Kamloops-North Thompson follows failed recall bids of Liberal MLAs Ida Chong in Oak Bay, Don McRae in Comox Valley and Marc Dalton in Maple Ridge-Mission.
Another attempt to recall Cariboo-Chilcotin Liberal MLA Donna Barnett was abandoned before it began.
– Kamloops This Week