Past campaign donor questions Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran's suitability for leadership | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Past campaign donor questions Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran's suitability for leadership

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and his campaign manager Wayne Pierce at a reception announcing his reelection bid, Thursday, May 24, 2018.

Kelowna builder Les Bellamy has no political aspirations himself, but he does have plenty of concerns about Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran’s suitability for the job.

Bellamy, who owns Bellamy Homes, contributed $3,000 to Basran in 2017 in the lead-up to the 2018 municipal election when Basran won re-election.

His contribution was one of $20,000 donated to Basran in 2017 but not declared as election contributions because the money was spent in 2017, Basran said, noting he was unaware of the requirement to notify Elections B.C. of such contributions.

READ MORE: Complaint forces Kelowna mayor to file corrected financial report with Elections B.C.

The donations were made before contribution limits of $1,200 per donor were imposed in 2018.

“I think it’s likely that anybody who sees what’s going on here is second guessing whether Colin is the right person to be in that seat,” Bellamy said. “He’s the man on top of the food chain of a $142 million city budget and he can’t figure out how to account for $20K? That concerns me.”

An Elections B.C. spokesperson explained to that the rules are quite clear that any contribution that is spent on anything in relation to a campaign must be declared.

While Basran said he was not aware of the need to declare contributions from 2017, Elections B.C. does provide guides for candidates and financial agents and are quite willing to provide guidance on the proper way to account for things like campaign contributions.

There is no penalty for Basran for not declaring the 2017 contributions or expenses, as long as he does file a supplemental report within 30 days of learning of the error, which he is doing.

“It’s why people don’t vote anymore,” Bellamy said. “Why bother? Politicians do what politicians do and then they just apologize and we all go back to eating our Cheerios. It’s just creating a mistrust of politicians at all levels of government and here we have it at a local level.”

Another thing troubling Bellamy is that, while he wrote his cheque in October, 2017, which is not part of the official election year, the money wasn't taken out of his account until early January.

“He couldn’t have spent my money if he hadn’t deposited it until 2018,” Bellamy said.

But Basran has a simple explanation for that.

“Services that were provided to me that that money helped pay for was provided in 2017,” Basran said. “I can’t really speak to why the cheque was cashed in 2018 but I can tell you the money was used for services provided in 2017."

In this case, Basran is right.

Elections B.C.'s rules state that the date a contribution is made – in this case, the date on the cheque – is the date the candidate must declare it as a contribution.

Bellamy has been critical of Basran on other matters since the 2018 election.

He served as a chief spokesman for the Kelowna Legacy Group that challenged the city’s decision to put the land beside Kelowna Community Theatre out to tender for a residential high rise rather than incorporate it into a more comprehensive civic properties development.

READ MORE: Legacy group 'shocked' over council reactions to proposal

Now, at least one of Bellamy’s Facebook followers has suggested he run for mayor against Basran.

Bellamy is quite emphatic that, just because he’s speaking up publicly in both these situations while others remain silent, it has nothing to do with politics.

“I think it’s unfortunate that people just assume that, if I’m speaking out, that I’ve got my finger on the pulse of politics or want to be involved in politics,” he said. “That’s absolutely not the case.”

He said he doesn’t know who might want to challenge Basran in the 2022 election but it’s certainly not him.

“I have no idea of who wants to be involved in politics — let me rephrase that — I can tell you who doesn’t want to be in politics right now: Les Bellamy,” he said.

What he does know is, if Basran does run for re-election, he will not support him.

Will Basran run again?

“I’m not sure yet,” Basran said. “I’m making no formal announcement about my political future right now on the phone with you.”

Then he went on to make comments that could be taken to mean he is planning to run.

“There’s a lot of great things happening in the city so I’m really proud of that,” Basran said. “We have one of the lowest unemployment rates, there’s lots of development taking place. This is an attractive place for people to live. When you really look at the big picture, there’s a lot of positives happening.

“Certainly, we’re dealing with difficult topics – social issues, the pandemic. This will be unprecedented times for sure but, when you pull yourself up to a really high level and you look down, I’m glad I’m the mayor of Kelowna and not another community because I think we’re doing pretty well, relatively speaking.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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