SFU City Conversations on Money & Politics May 5 (Thu) featuring Reimer, Ransford, Cameron: Some questions

Recycling logo with 2 question marks(Updated — Public service announcement, plus some additional thoughts and questions at the bottom…note that the organizers mix the three levels of government into the discussion, but Reimer and Ransford are firmly in the municipal domain. So is this discussion mostly about civic money and politics? If so, notice that organizers have set it up to feature Vision Vancouver, which is the prime beneficiary of the political money game. In fact, Reimer’s voting record is a prime example of the full extent of the influence of big money on the outcomes of important decisions of City Council involving millions of dollars in profit for private interests; Reimer like her Vision colleagues, has not voted against a single rezoning application at council over the past couple of terms. Vision Vancouver spent a record $3.4 million during the 2014 civic election, primarily funded by the real-estate development industry. How is it that SFU did not invite COPE, Green, or other parties that run campaigns on far more modest budgets?)

SFU Public Square – City Conversations: Money and Politics

Featuring

  • Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer
  • Developer Bob Ransford
  • UBC Prof. Max Cameron, Director of the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions

May 5, 2016 (Thursday) 12:30 PM
Room 1600, SFU Vancouver at Harbour Centre, 515 W. Hastings St.
http://www.sfu.ca/publicsquare/upcoming-events/city-conversations/2016/May-5-2016.html

Official text: In the maze of federal and provincial regulations of political donations, those for British Columbia are among the most liberal. Any person, corporation or trade union can donate unlimited money to political parties. The provincial Liberals claim that the alternative would be public funding, which they suggest, the public won’t like. BC imposes similar lack of restraint on municipal elections, which Vancouver’s Vision party, unsurprisingly, wants to change.

Political contribution scandals are as old as Confederation, when Prime Minister John A. Macdonald traded the right to build the trans-Canada railway for a secret $350,000 contribution. (Don’t forget that the railway brought British Columbia into Canada, and created the city of Vancouver.) Can we transform the way we fund elections? What are the alternatives? Did you know that political donations are tax deductible? [CHW note: Except that contributions to local mayoral campaigns do not qualify for the political donation tax credit…]

To help us sort out this critical element of a democratic society, we’re honoured to have Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer, Developer Bob Ransford, and UBC Prof. Max Cameron, Director of the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions.

Then it’s your turn to question, observe, and offer your opinions.

Please note that SFU City Conversations are back in Room 1600.

Registration is not required but seating is limited. Please try to arrive early to ensure a seat.

**************

Here are some questions that might be asked of the presenters.

Councillor Reimer:

  • With Vision Vancouver’s two amended financial disclosure statements, after all, how much did your party receive officially in the 2014 civic election? What proportion from developers and the real estate industry? From unions?
  • Exactly how much “dark money” (unreported political donations, especially between election years) has your civic political party received per year in the past few years? Would you advocate internally to for Vision Vancouver to have proactive disclosure of this money?
  • What is the specific reason that the Vancouver City Council doesn’t just impose a cap on individual donation amounts, or ban corporate and union donations? Does provincial legislation explicitly prohibit you from doing so?
  • Why indeed did you bury the City Council motion on July 21, 2015, that could have transformed Vancouver politics by banning corporate/union donations, limiting dollar amounts, and requiring continuous reporting?
  • Why have there been endless delays in trying to implement campaign finance reform via action at Council? Why is the composition and whereabouts of the election study committee that was requested in February 2015 still unavailable?
  • How is it that Mayor Robertson asked for a longer 4-year election cycle without first consulting Vancouver residents in 2014 (before the change was made by the Legislature)?

Developer Ransford:

  • Is it appropriate for declared political supporters to benefit from no-bid contracts from a government? For example, the $80,000 $90,000 you received in a sole source contract in May 2015? https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/vancouvers-procurement-circumvent-accountability/
  • What is your role on the Vancouver Parking Authority Board? (EasyPark is a City-owned entity)
  • What is your affiliation with Brenhill Developments, the proponent behind the highly-controversial tower rezoning on Emery Barnes Park?

Professor Cameron:

  • Indeed, don’t “Why don’t (more) good people enter (and get elected in) politics?” especially at the civic level, in Vancouver, for example? Is the inability of challengers to attract the big corporate and union donations a major hurdle for them?

SFU City Conversations:

  • For this meeting, why did you choose to exclusively feature Vision Vancouver speakers on the civic scene? Other key civic parties are not presenting — especially the Greens and COPE, which have had a lot to say about the topic. What does this tell us about SFU City Conversations?

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