Thousands of B.C. citizens have pushed hard for election finance reform over the past many years, yet very little has been done so far. CityHallWatch has covered this extensively. See for example “BC’s Unfair Elections Act: Top 10 list of what is wrong with Bill 20″ (March 28, 2014), and for an example of grassroots efforts, see ““Get Big Money out of Civic Politics!”: 919 petition signatures sent to Province on Local Elections Campaign Financing (Expense Limits) Amendment Act” (November 26, 2015).
Lo and behold, facing the likelihood of being booted out of office after losing the May 9, 2017 provincial election, the elected officials with the B.C. Liberals have seen the light. For the record, here is the text verbatim from the Throne Speech. We note that the proposal is to apply the same strict limits on municipal elections (which occur next on October 20, 2018). It is clear from the text of this Throne Speech that the B.C. Liberals have known for a long time exactly what reforms were needed, but consciously chose not to adopt them. We hope that whoever holds power in B.C. in the coming weeks and months will implement legislative changes like these immediately.
Speech from the Throne
The Honourable Judith Guichon, OBC
at the Opening of the First Session, Forty-First Parliament of the Province of British Columbia, June 22, 2017
Top page with video: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/thronespeech/
Section on “REFORMING OUR INSTITUTIONS” (with video; note that links may stop working in the future; bolding is by CityHallWatch):
British Columbia is a place like no other. Everyone who was born here or has come here knows that this place is special, and absolutely unique.
However, there are a few ways in which we could be more like others in this country.
On the issue of political and democratic reform, your government acknowledges more should have been done sooner, and more needs to be done now.
Your government will pursue comprehensive reforms that will:
- Ban corporate, union, and third party donations, including donations in kind, to political parties;
- Impose a maximum donation limit for individuals to political parties, comparable to other Canadian jurisdictions;
- Ban donations to political parties from outside British Columbia, including foreign donations;
- Ban funding to a provincial political party from a federal political party;
- Restrict the role of money influencing elections through third parties;
- Ban loans to parties by any organization other than a Canadian chartered bank or credit union; and
- Apply these reforms to local government candidates and political parties.
The results that British Columbians delivered in the May election require cooperation. Your government is committed to working with all parties in the legislature.
Following referenda in 2005 and 2009, there remains a desire by many members in this place to revisit electoral reform.
With the confidence of this house, your government will enable a third referendum on electoral reform. It will require extensive public consultation to develop a clear question, and will ensure rural representation in the legislature is protected.
It is vital that any referendum reflects the views of British Columbians, not just its political parties.
Additionally, your government will work with other parties to strengthen lobbyist legislation and regulations.**********
CityHallWatch note: The B.C. Liberal Throne Speech mentions concrete improvements with political and democratic reform. That is good. But “weasel words” are there. All they are offering is to hold a third referendum and yet another round of public consultation. It is far too late for that. Again, we hope that whoever holds power in B.C. in the coming weeks and months will implement legislative changes like these immediately.
Martyn Brown: My case for campaign finance reform in British Columbia
Georgia Straight: February 26th, 2017
Why should you care about campaign finance reform in British Columbia ?
That is the subject of this exceptionally lengthy discourse, the second in a three-part series on the topic. The final installment will speak to how that needed change might be accomplished.
Basically, my argument can be summarized in the following seven points:
1. Large donors have too much influence on government.
2. The current system is coercive.
3. The B.C. Liberals have an unfair funding advantage.
4. The system lacks transparency.
5. “Dark money” is a growing problem.
6. The system is too expensive and wasteful.
7. The conflict of interest regime is ethically blind.
Long article. See the rest online.