B.C. law permits people who have committed financial crimes to run for public office with the notion being voters can make up their own minds as to who they’d like to have represent them. But the system only works if voters are made aware of the candidates who have been convicted of breaking the law.
While he’s not one to broadcast his past, Area I (Youbou/Meade Creek) candidate (Harold) Max Russell isn’t denying it either and says he’s changed.
According to a Provincial Court of B.C. decision, Russell was convicted of defrauding the company he worked for of $502,673 by using his position as the company’s comptroller to make false journal entries over the span of four years claiming expenses that didn’t exist. The expenses in fact were actually sums diverted to his own accounts.
“Mr. Russell spent all the money that he stole from the company on personal items. In essence, there was nothing driving the offence other than Mr. Russell’s greed,” said Justice Raymond Low in his sentencing, dated Oct. 8, 2013. “Mr. Russell, at the time of this offence, was a mature, intelligent adult and was well aware of the gravity of what he was doing.”
In response to community concern, Russell said he has changed.
“I made a mistake almost 20 years ago,” he said. “I fulfilled the court’s directives and learned from my ways. I am now active, helpful and supportive to my community as a whole. My past has been known as I have never hidden nor denied it. All I can ask, and hope for, is you to go to my Facebook page, follow my campaign, and then decide if I am qualified to represent you as the Area I Director at the Cowichan Valley Regional District board table.”
According to Russell’s Facebook page, which can be found at www.facebook.com/Max4areai/, he said his most pressing priority if elected is removing regional referendums, and the need to bring back area voting on issues, like the upcoming regional referendum on funding for recreational facilities.
He lists his second top priority as ensuring fair services for taxes paid in Youbou/Meade Creek.
Area I voters can cast their ballots on Oct. 15 for one of (alphabetically) Karen Deck, Klaus Kuhn (incumbent), John Rudzik or Russell.