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Ajax clarifies stance on civic election support

November 12, 2014 - 6:11 PM

REGISTERING WITH ELECTIONS B.C. A 'COMMITMENT TO TRANSPARENCY'

KAMLOOPS - The company behind the proposed Ajax Mine is looking to clarify why they are registering as a third-party sponsor with Elections B.C.

On Monday the company issued a confusing statement about a letter they had sent out to supporters. What they didn't say was why they were registering with Elections B.C. or if they were going back on a statement issued by External Affairs Manager Yves Lacasse more than a month ago about not financially supporting any city council candidates.

A followup release today makes their position much clearer. They are not supporting any candidates financially and only registered because the company is committed to transparency.

“KGHM sought legal advice about whether it was required to register with Elections B.C. to send this letter to its supporters. We were told that because the letter and the list of candidates were not being broadcast to the public… it is not election advertising,” the company said Wednesday. “Because of its commitment to transparency KGHM registered with Elections B.C. anyway.”

The issue arose after the company shared in a letter and on Facebook a list of candidates who are against the mine and those with a stated position of waiting for environmental assessment information. The list was created by an Ajax supporter and shared by the company because they ‘had been asked many times by our supporters for this kind of information.’

A third party sponsor is an individual or organization that conducts election advertising independently from any candidate or elector organization. Third party advertising includes advertising for or against a candidate or elector organization and/or advertising on an issue, such as funding for a local recreation centre or preserving parkland.

Here is the original statement from spokesman Robert Koopmans Monday, Nov. 10:

Ajax has not endorsed specific candidates and we have not financially supported candidates.
 
We do encourage our neighbors to get out and vote. Several of our supporters have shared council candidates' position on Ajax, and others have asked us for a list. We shared a list researched and prepared by one of our supporters and shared it with other supporters in one of our regular project update letters.
 
This list simply indicates those candidates who want to wait for the environmental studies before taking a position on Ajax. Regardless, Ajax decided last week to register as a third-party sponsor and expects to file the required paperwork this week.

Here is the followup statement on Wednesday, Nov. 12:

Elections are vital to the open public discourse that we embrace at KGHM Ajax.  That is why we encourage our neighbours to get involved and understand the issues and candidates in the current election, regardless of how they intend to vote.  
 
While fully within our rights to do so, KGHM chose not to financially support any Kamloops city council candidate. KGHM publicly stated this position on numerous occasions and has maintained that commitment.
 
We recently sent a letter to a group of Ajax supporters that included a list of all the candidates currently running for Kamloops city council as well as their respective public positions on Ajax. We shared the list, created by a supporter, because we had been asked many times by our supporters for this kind of information.  The list simply set out the name of every candidate for council and the public position taken by each candidate about Ajax.  We were happy to provide this list as requested.
 
KGHM sought legal advice about whether it was required to register with Elections BC to send this letter to its supporters.  We were told that because the letter and the list of candidates were not being broadcast to the public, but rather were a private communication with our supporters, it is not election advertising requiring registration with Elections BC.  Despite this advice -- and because of its commitment to transparency -- KGHM registered with Elections BC anyway.  Indeed, we were happy to do so. KGHM Ajax will fully comply with all of B.C.’s election laws.
 
We will continue to provide people objective information when asked -- by mail, email, social media and telephone -- as well as to encourage people to get out and vote, whatever their position on Ajax may be.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infonews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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