Pay for Play Politics in BC Must Stop
Ban on corporate, union donations only way to remove taint of big money.
But that's happening -- and BC Liberal fundraising chair Bob Rennie is planning at least 20 similar events before the May 2017 election, according to a Globe and Mail report.
The clear perception is that big money buys access to the province's most powerful politician that is unavailable to British Columbians who don't have $10,000 -- about 20 per cent of the average annual wage.....
The fundraising tactic has cast a shadow over B.C. politics for years.
On a single March day in 2010, the BC Liberal Party received more than $300,000 from liquor businesses, 24 Hours Vancouver reported.
Liquor business representatives were invited to discuss their concerns over lunch at a Vancouver steak house with Rich Coleman, then the minister responsible, and then-premier Gordon Campbell. The price of admission was a $15,000 donation to the Liberals......
Fortunately, it's not hard to fix the system.
Jean Chrétien's federal Liberal government sharply limited corporate and union donations in 2003, and Stephen Harper's Conservatives banned them in 2006. The new rules only allowed donations from individuals, and set strict limits on annual giving.
Federal political parties can still run their operations and vigorous campaigns, as we saw in the October 2015 election. But there are no huge gifts given in backrooms by special interests.
Clark is still in desperate denial, talking about introducing "real time disclosure" of donations on a quarterly basis -- a change that will do nothing to end the secret suppers.
That's not surprising. In 2014, the BC Liberals raised $10.1 million -- more than $5 million from corporations -- while donations to the BC NDP were only $3.2 million, including just $132,000 from business and $384,000 from unions.
When the Liberals can take in $2 million more from corporations than the NDP raises from all sources, they're not likely to be interested in reforming political financing laws.........
And Democracy Watch, a national public advocacy group, is calling on provincial conflict commissioners to crack down on the practice of providing access in return for donations, arguing they violate conflict laws.
But Clark and the BC Liberals are unwilling to act, given their big funding advantage gained from corporate contributions.
That should be offensive to every voter.
If British Columbians want an end to corporate and union donations, they have to make it clear that politicians who refuse to make changes will pay -- in the 2017 election