(Updated Nov 20. Don’t be misled by headlines. The legislation being proposed has HUGE gaps, and will not solve the problems of excessive influence of corporate and union donations in B.C. municipal elections. Many people should go on record saying the proposed changes are not enough.)
Big money in civic politics is driving the political agenda. We see this everyday in Vancouver.
The Province has announced that it will be looking at adopting the recent committee recommendations on ‘spending limits’ for the 2018 election. These are almost meaningless, as unlimited corporate and union donations will still be allowed, with no practical upper limit. Parties running a full slate in Vancouver would be able to spend $3 million each during the election in 2018. Further details are contained in the following news release:
Concerned citizens are encouraged to comment here by November 27, 2015 (email firstname.lastname@example.org). Spending by local political parties (“elector organizations”) should be capped. The recommendations on the table allow local parties to pool the donations for all candidates in order to circumvent meaningful spending limits. Even if a party decided to run a partial slate of 22 candidates in 2018, a ‘spending limit’ of $2.5 million would be allowed (that’s the same number of candidates run by Vision and the NPA). Local elections in BC need donation limits, a ban on corporate and union donations, and many other changes. A very high spending limit for large cities is completely inadequate.
For a backgrounder on how truly absurd the so-called ‘spending limits’ are, please see:
Third party advertisers would have a $150,000 ‘spending limit’ during a 28-day ‘election period’, and with no restrictions on donors.
Councillor Adriane Carr tried to introduce a motion that would limit spending and cap donations, but it was buried by Andrea Reimer. A number of good ideas were laid out clearly in the motion:
It’s also important to consider that the BC NDP and the BC Greens could both take a solid stand on introducing real finance reform in 2017 in the event there is a change in government. For this to happen, it’s critical to raise the profile of this issue now.
There are many signs that big money is driving the planning process in Vancouver. The spending restrictions for municipal elections in many other provinces and in other cities like Toronto are already much better than what is being proposed for BC. This is the Wild West. It’s time to change that.
Here is the draft text of the legislation: