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Corporate & union donations to stay in BC politics: Premier Clark

Coming off the heels of Elections BC’s annual disclosure of political donations in British Columbia, Premier Christy Clark says the rules may need a tweak, but not a complete overhaul.

While fielding questions from reporters Wednesday, Clark says the current rules are more or less, good enough.

She says the laws in place already insure anyone making a donation is not getting influence in return “That’s what we have to avoid, and that’s what the rules are there to avoid. And we do it, we live up to those obligations.”

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has pledged to ban corporate and union donations from politics in that province, and will step away from hosting fundraiser dinners with exorbitant price tags as high as $25,000.

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However here in BC that idea is a non-starter for the BC Liberals.

“Because we have spending limits in election campaigns, each is limited in the amount that they can spend and therefore and ultimately that they need to raise.” Clark told reporters “It makes us fundamentally different from what goes on in the United States.”

Clark says she has directed Elections BC to begin making contribution disclosure an ongoing process, as opposed to the once a year dump of data the public receives now. But she won’t go as far as asking parties to provide context behind donations; right now it’s impossible to discern whether a donation was made in the form of a $10,000 dinner ticker, or regular contribution.

During Wednesday’s sitting, the BC NDP used some political maneuvering to force the legislature to vote on a bill that would have banned corporate and union donations from BC politics. The bill was voted down by the Liberals.

“It’s past time that we took action to restore faith in our political system, and to ensure that British Columbians are at the heart of that political system. This bill takes the essential first steps.” NDP leader John Horgan said in a release.

More than half of the $9.9 million the BC Liberals raised last year came in the form of large corporate donations, while 35% of all of the BC NDP donations were contributions from individuals, less than $250. (previous story)

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