False Creek skyline. Image credit: Common Ground, April 2017.
Tools: call4change.ca is a new citizen-initiated tool to help voters reach their MLA by phone or e-mail with a message calling for a ban on corporate and union donations (Twitter @call4changebc, hashtag #call4change). For further reference, see also integrityBC.ca, dogwoodBC.ca, cityhallwatch.ca, coalitionvan.ca.
This article appears in Common Ground magazine in April 2017. It is very timely, considering the BC Provincial election on May 9, 2017. (Note also: Next municipal elections are on October 20, 2018).
How big money corrupts politics: BC’s Wild West of campaign funding needs reform
Of the corporate donations to the BC Liberals, the largest group among the top donors are property developers.
by Elizabeth Murphy, April 2017
The provincial government has jurisdiction over election rules for both the province and municipalities. Here in BC, the wild west of campaign fundraising, provincial and municipal campaign finance rules are currently among the least accountable in Canada. This has been a huge problem for decades and will not change until the province takes action. The British Columbia provincial election on May 9 brings an opportunity to raise the issue of big money in politics and campaign finance reform.
Large donations and cash for access to candidates (often from vested interests) are standard practice with multi-million dollar campaigns. We are becoming the equivalent of a banana republic as globalized capital increasingly influences our governance.
Having the regulators funded by those they regulate is a form of systemic corruption. Limits on individual donations and banning corporate, union and foreign contributions are standard practices in many provinces and at the federal level. But not in BC. Here, at both the provincial and municipal levels, few restrictions exist and existing rules are often ignored.
The Vancouver Sun reported that, from 2005 to the first few weeks of 2017, of the corporate donations to the BC Liberals, the largest group among the top donors are property developers, with 21 of the top 50. Condo marketer Bob Rennie was the BC Liberal’s head fundraiser up to January 2017, leaving the party well funded for the May 9th election. Rennie has also been a prominent supporter and fundraiser for Vancouver’s ruling party, Vision Vancouver and Mayor Gregor Robertson.
These developers include the Aquilini family at the #2 spot ($1.43 million); Adera Group ($1.1 million); Wesbild ($929,576); and Peter Wall and nephew Bruno Wall ($914,425), who own and manage Wall Financial Corp., including the Wall Centre in Vancouver where the BC Liberals held their 2013 election victory win. The top 50 list also includes Polygon, Concord Pacific, Beedie Development Group, Onni, the Redekops and Ilichs. Continue reading