BC Liberals unify to block proposal for a ban on corporate & union donations, plus contribution limits, as part of local election finance reform Bill

MLA Selina Robinson

MLA Selina Robinson

(Epilogue: MLA Selina Robinson’s valiant attempt to amend this bill and ban corporate and union donations was blocked. In Legislature, 31 votes in favour of her amendment (NDP, Green, Independent), were overwhelmed by 43 against (BC Liberals). Here is her concluding tweet.)

The CityHallWatch panel on Roundhouse Radio discussed this topic on April 12, with guest Jordan Bober. Listen here: http://bit.ly/1Q4KVDB

Our original post prior to the vote continues …

Watch this debate today and take note of the positions presented. MLA Selina Robinson will introduce an amendment in the Legislature that could allow the City of Vancouver to limit the amount of contributions to local election campaigns and to ban corporation and union donations. [Update: the amendment was defeated by the government majority and Bill 17 was later passed into law]

The legislature is set to continue with the 3rd reading of Bill 17 (Local Elections Campaign Financing (Election Expenses) Amendment Act, 2016) around 2:30 pm on Monday, April 11, 2016 (the live video webfeed for the Legislature is available at this link ). Bill 17, as currently written, seeks to enshrine the status quo on big money donations in local election campaigns.

In the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto bans corporate and union donations to Councillor and Mayoral races. As well, in Toronto there are maximum contribution limits for a single donor of $5000 per year (cumulative to all campaigns combined), and donation limits of $750 to a Councillor candidate and $2500 to a Mayoral candidate.

The proposed rules in Bill 17 would only limit spending by candidates for a short window of 28 days (“election period”), without any contribution limits. Donations of any amount would be permitted. In Vancouver, local political parties will be allowed to add together the maximum spending for all of their candidates into one pot, thus allowing spending of $3 million for the 28-day election period if they run a full slate (and unlimited spending prior to start of the election period).

The proposed amendment would allow the City of Vancouver to limit donations to only individuals by banning all other contributor classes such as corporations and unions. As well, a real limit could be placed on the donation amount to individual candidates and/or to local political parties (elector organizations).

Will the government majority defeat this amendment? Stay tuned.
Local Election Finance amendment

The original text of the amendment can be found in the Orders of the Day (text reproduced below):


17  Ms. Robinson to move, in Committee of the Whole on Bill (No. 17) intituled Local Elections Campaign Financing (Election Expenses) Amendment Act, 2016 to amend as follows:

SECTION 49.1, by adding the underlined text as shown:

49.1 The following Division is added to Part 1:

Division 8.1 – Power to Make Contribution Limits

Campaign Finance

65.1 (1) Council is permitted to enact a bylaw or bylaws in order to

(a) establish maximum limits on campaign contributions to candidates or elector organizations;

(b) establish a limit or a ban on a contributor class; and

(c) establish fines or penalties, including disqualification, for violation of a bylaw enacted under this section.

(2) Enactments and amendments of bylaws under this section are prohibited within a campaign period.

(3) For the purpose of this section, definitions are as established in the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act.

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