Court Expels Mayor for Lying

Article excerpt

TORONTO - For politicians who routinely twist the truth, a ruling by the Supreme Court of British Columbia could be a warning. The court fired a mayor for lying to voters.

Mike Frazier, mayor of the northern British Columbia village of McBride, was ordered out of office last month for violating a section of the province's election act that makes it a crime to persuade someone to vote for or against a candidate or party through fraudulent means.

Prior to November's election, Mr. Frazier and his campaign workers distributed a flier telling voters the incumbent mayor had voted to raise property taxes on landowners both inside and outside the village.

"You may thank your current mayor for this further burden upon your lives," the flier said.

The problem, as Judge Glen Parrett ruled, was that the previous mayor, Maurice Bonneville, did not vote on the tax increase because no vote had been held, and even his power to levy the tax was in question.

Testifying in court, Mr. Frazier admitted he knew the information on the flier was inaccurate.

Judge Parrett did not break the sanctity of the ballot box by polling voters on why they had chosen one candidate or another. He ruled that based on the evidence and the balance of probabilities, the flier did lead some voters to vote for a candidate they would not otherwise have voted for.

Mr. Frazier was elected with 187 votes to Mr. Bonneville's 53.

The landslide, however, turned into a mudslide when Mr. Bonneville challenged the election in court.

The law, Judge Parrett ruled, is intended to safeguard the public from fraudulent conduct intended to sway their votes. "While the law is not meant to guard against trivial misrepresentation, holding political candidates and parties to a standard of non-fraudulent dealing with the public is in accord with maintaining the integrity of the electoral process," he said. …