Breadcrumb Trail Links
Sager spent more than $93,000 on his campaign, nearly twice the $50,880 former mayor and candidate Mary-Ann Booth spent
The decision by Elections B.C. to forward West Vancouver Mayor Mark Sager’s campaign financing disclosure statement to police for review doesn’t happen often.
“On a Canada-wide basis, it can happen every year or two,” said Stewart Prest, a political science lecturer at the University of B.C. “It happens on occasion, but it’s certainly something noteworthy when it rises to the level for an RCMP investigation of possible criminal activity.”
Elections B.C. said last week that after it found “spending irregularities,” and contacted the RCMP, which referred the file on Sager’s campaign financing disclosure report to the Port Moody Police.
Andrew Watson, Elections B.C.’s senior director of communications, said this week he wasn’t able to give details why Sager’s file was forwarded to the police.
“Whether or not we decide to forward a file depends on factors like our capacity, which legislation is involved, and the facts of the case,” Watson said in an email.
The last time Elections B.C. referred a case to the RCMP was in 2017 for an investigation into indirect political donations that turned out to be made by lobbyists, who were later reimbursed but which contravenes the elections act. Later that year, the B.C. NDP introduced a bill that banned donations from corporations and unions and limited personal contributions to $1,200 a year per party or candidate.
Elections B.C. investigated 146 cases of potential contraventions of elections law related to the 2022 civic elections, of which 58 resulted in administrative penalties.
Sager said he first learned of the investigation last week and was shocked that alleged “irregularities” are under police investigation.
On Tuesday, he said he called Port Moody police, and his financial agent has called Elections B.C., but neither has further details.
“I can’t say anything because I don’t know any more,” said Sager. “It’s sure not fun. It’s a horrible feeling.”
Elections B.C.’s records show Sager raised just under $87,000 from 96 donors.
Each individual donation was below the maximum allowable amount of $1,250, but one donation under the name Mark Sager is listed as having donated $2,400.
“It’s an anomaly,” said Prest. “By way of comparison, if you look at Ken Sim’s report, everything is $1,250 or less. There may be an innocent explanation for it…these reports are occasionally amended, so maybe it’s a case where something needs to be amended, but I’d say it’s worth asking a question about.”
Sager spent more than $93,000 on his campaign, according to finance reports released in February, which is nearly twice the $50,880 former mayor and candidate Mary-Ann Booth spent, according to the North Shore News.
Elections B.C. capped spending for the campaign period between Sept. 17 and Oct. 15 at just above $34,000, during which Sager’s campaign recorded expenses of $33,000.
Elections B.C. requires that expenses before and during the campaign period, such as signage, must be recorded in both periods. It also requires that services and contributions must be recorded at full market value.
In September, Sager filed to Elections B.C. an amendment to his campaign report that flagged a “prohibited contribution” of over $1,087 in discounted professional services from consultant John Moonen and Associates and which was spent before the campaign period, according to the North Shore News. Sager said he paid back the money.
Separately, in December 2022, the Law Society of B.C. alleged that lawyer Sager committed professional misconduct when handling a will between 2010 and 2020, taking money from the estate without authorization. Its disciplinary hearing will be heard in March 2024.
Prior to this, Sager faced a professional misconduct allegation from the Law Society in 2018 and was found guilty and fined $20,000 in 2020.
— With a file from Canadian Press
Port Moody police tabbed to investigate West Vancouver mayor’s 2022 campaign finances
Daphne Bramham: Without stiff fines, B.C. municipal election cheaters can prosper
Bookmark our website and support our journalism: Don’t miss the news you need to know — add VancouverSun.com and TheProvince.com to your bookmarks and sign up for our newsletters here.
You can also support our journalism by becoming a digital subscriber: For just $14 a month, you can get unlimited access to The Vancouver Sun, The Province, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites. Support us by subscribing today: The Vancouver Sun | The Province.
Share this article in your social network