Rich Coleman (left) and Eric Woodward are both running for Langley Township’s mayors seat. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Rich Coleman (left) and Eric Woodward are both running for Langley Township’s mayors seat. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Township mayoral candidates clash over financial disclosures, blind trust

Eric Woodward claims Rich Coleman is violating rules on disclosing assets

Langley Township mayoral candidate Rich Coleman should disclose the assets he has in a blind trust, according to rival mayoral candidate Eric Woodward.

Woodward raised the issue in September, after the candidates’ registration forms were filed with the local chief election officers, and posted on the Township’s website.

When running for civic office, candidates have to disclose their corporate or personal investment holdings, including property they own, along with businesses they own or which pay them a salary.

Coleman’s disclosure lists “blind trust” under his disclosure section, along with his B.C. government pension from his career as an MLA and cabinet minister.

“If you have assets in a trust structure, you still have to disclose the assets,” Woodward said.

He said it’s “outrageous” that Coleman isn’t disclosing what he owns, and said it would make it impossible to determine if there are conflicts of interest if Coleman were to be elected mayor.

Woodward said he does not believe Coleman doesn’t know what’s in his trust.

Coleman said he sought advice and believes that listing his assets as a blind trust is within the rules of Elections BC, which oversees local elections.

He said he had planned to open up the blind trust a few years after he left provincial politics in 2020, but left it closed when he decided to run for mayor.

Opening it up again would require sitting down with his legal counsel, Coleman noted.

Coleman said that the whole purpose of a blind trust is to avoid conflicts of interest, which is why he created one more than 20 years ago.

The trust was created around the year 2000.

“It’s been blind for a long time,” Coleman said.

As a cabinet minister in the Liberal government of the day, he didn’t want his decisions to influence his investments, so he sought legal advice to create the trust.

All Coleman knows is who the trustee is who controls the investments.

It did contain real estate when he began it, Coleman said.

“It hasn’t been very active,” he said of the trust.

The Langley Advance Times reached out to the provincial government, and the Ministry of the Attorney General said that disclosure statements must detail an elected official’s corporate and personal holdings, icnluding the name of each business providing financial remuneration to the candidate, and a description and location of land in which they own an interest.

Woodward’s disclosure notes his ownership of shares in two credit unions, but the bulk of the disclosure is about Fort Langley Properties Ltd., a holding company which owns 20 properties in the Fort.

Both Woodward and Coleman are leading slates – Woodward the Contract with Langley group, and Coleman Elevate Langley. They are also facing indpendent mayoral candidates Blair Whitmarsh and Michelle Sparrow.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Mayoral hopefuls spar in Langley Township all-candidates meeting

READ MORE: When and where to cast your ballot – voting days and locations in Langley


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BC Election 2022Election 2022Langley Township