Pouce Coupe “vote buying” court hearing concluded

POUCE COUPE, B.C. — A court hearing on the “vote buying” lawsuit between former Pouce Coupe mayor Lorraine Michetti and her successor, Danielle Veach, concluded on December 6th after a four-day hearing.

The judgment into Michetti’s claims surrounding a meet and greet Veach held before the 2022 municipal election is expected at a later date.

In her own response, Veach denied all the claims made in Michetti’s petition to the B.C. Supreme Court.

The allegations come after an event on September 18th, a meet and greet held by Veach at Love & Pizza in Pouce Coupe. The “Tea and Talk” event was where Michetti alleges Veach made false statements about Michetti’s character and trustworthiness.

During the meeting, Veach allegedly made false statements claiming Michetti was the reason for a former village administrator’s suicide and endangered a friend of Veach’s by giving out her contact information to an ex-husband while she was in a witness protection program.

Veach allegedly repeated these allegations prior to the election on October 15th.

The petition noted that Veach had also paid for all the refreshments at the event, including tea, coffee, and cinnamon buns, which prompted Michetti and her lawyer to claim she bought votes.

In response, Veach denies all claims made against her.

Veach said the statements, which she denied were made, were not intended to lead voters to vote for a candidate they would not have voted for or compel a person to refrain from voting altogether.

Michetti is looking to have Danielle Veach’s election win declared invalid, claiming she bought votes and made “serious fraudulent misrepresentations” about Michetti’s character.

After losing the election by five votes to Veach, Michetti is asking the court to declare her the village’s mayor as the runner-up or a new election with Veach being disqualified from running or holding office as mayor for seven years.

If the court were to declare the election invalid, Veach and her lawyer believe that the court should declare the office vacant and require the village to hold a by-election.

Veach’s response also stated that she should not be ordered to pay any amount towards the by-election, and each party should pay their own costs. She believes Michetti should not be declared mayor in place of Veach, as she only received 30 per cent of the votes.

According to the Government of British Columbia, penalties related to elections can only be sought after by Crown Counsel, which Veach noted in her response. Elections BC is responsible for administering and enforcing local election advertising and campaign financing rules.

The response claimed the court has no authority to declare that Veach is disqualified from holding office as it may only make this through an application brought by 10 or more electors of a municipality or the municipality itself.

The village’s response requests compensation from Veach if the claims are found to be true. If the claims are found to be false, the village seeks costs against Michetti.

The village has the option to declare the office of the mayor as vacant or declare that another candidate is elected in her place if the election is ruled invalid.

As there were four candidates running for mayor, the village said it would be “inappropriate to declare Ms. Michetti as elected in place of Ms. Veach.

The court has heard the responses, and a judgment is excepted in the coming weeks.

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