Ignorance of the law isn’t an acceptable defence in many situations, nor should it be when it comes to election laws.
Those laws, particularly as they apply to third-party campaign organizers, are in place to protect the integrity of an election process and ensure democracy is carried out properly, and without inappropriate influence.
Those laws are of utmost importance.
It’s unclear whether the involvement of the Concerned Citizens of Nanaimo in the recent civic election campaign had any impact on the vote results, or if the group’s failure to register as a campaign organizer (until notified it had to) is worth pursuing as a breach of the law.
But this isn’t the first election questions have arisen about an individual or groups campaigning on behalf of another individual in Nanaimo.
If nothing else, this situation should serve as a timely reminder to all concerned citizens that taking community involvement over one or more issues and stepping it up a level to politicking comes with a significant responsibility to not only know the rules of the game, but to follow them.
Drivers who speed don’t get off with a warning just because they claim they didn’t know the speed limit and slow down once a police officer flashes the lights and sirens. Neither can we tolerate people or groups looking to drive change in our communities neglecting to follow the rules of democracy.
Democracy – whether it’s municipal, provincial or federal – isn’t just about finding an issue and speaking out to sway the votes. Democracy also demands that people getting involved know and respect the system.