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In the recent provincial election in British Columbia, there we several examples of individuals running for the position of MLA that already occupied elected offices. Dan Ashton was already mayor of Penticton when he was elected as MLA, and Marvin Hunt held the office of councillor for Surrey when the community elected him to provincial office. These two individuals handled their election as MLA very differently and caused me to wonder: Should a politician be allowed to hold more than one office?

In Mr. Ashton’s case, he immediately resigned as mayor of Penticton after being sworn in as a MLA. He has even offered to cover the price tag on a costly by-election himself, so as not to burden his community. Conversely, Mr. Hunt will continue to serve as both a councillor and as MLA for Surrey, also in an attempt to avoid shifting the cost of a civic by-election to his community. However, Mr. Hunt will not be pocketing his municipal pay cheque, but will be donating the amount directly back to Surrey.

As it is by-election season across the country, there are a few other examples of politicians moving from one level of government to another:

  • Yvonne Jones stepped down from her position as MHA in Newfoundland & Labrador before running for a MP spot, which she won.
  • Denis Coderre resigned his seat as MP to run for mayor of Montreal.
  • Two Toronto city councillors, Doug Holyday and Peter Milczyn, are running against one another for a MPP seat in an Ontario by-election. If either wins, they’ll have to resign from Toronto council. Toronto has debated in the past whether councillors should have to resign in advance of running for other offices.

Depending on the level of government and the location of the community, some elected offices are not considered full time jobs. It is very common for municipal politicians and school board trustees across the country to continue employment elsewhere after election. So returning to our original examples of Mr. Ashton and Mr. Hunt in BC, I looked further into the legalities.

Elections BC makes it very clear to any prospective candidate what the province’s laws are on holding multiple offices:

A person who holds another elected office (e.g. municipal councillor, school trustee) may be nominated as a candidate in a provincial election, with the exception of Members of the House of Commons of Canada (MPs).

Elections Canada confirms that “a member of the legislature of a province, the Council of the Northwest Territories or the Legislative Assembly of Yukon or Nunavut;” are ineligible to run for office in the federal government.

So now I know if a politician can hold multiple elected offices, but I still don’t know if they should. How would this impact their ability to complete the job they were elected to do? Or sufficiently represent the interests of their constituents?

What do you think?

Katie

 

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4 Responses to Should a politician be allowed to hold more than one office?

  1. Travis says:

    The answer is no, in this day and age there shouldn’t be any politicians who campaign for one office while occupying another.

    That being said Marc-Amable Girard might be the worst offender.

    He was MLA in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories and held a Senate seat all at the same time.

  2. Student Vote says:

    Thanks for commenting, Travis! I didn’t know that about Girard. Great example.

    -Dan

  3. SandiUH says:

    In Manitoba, the local elections act prohibits one from holding office while running for another; or running for both municipal and school board at the same time.

  4. Student Vote says:

    Thanks for the comment, Sandi! That’s good to know about Manitoba.

    -Dan

 

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