VICTORIA — Premier John Horgan says his government will introduce a campaign finance reform law next week that takes big money out of politics with legislated limits on donations to political parties by unions, corporations and individuals.
B.C. has earned a Wild West reputation on campaign financing for its unlimited donation rules that saw political parties raise millions for their election war chests, included staging exclusive fundraising events where donors paid thousands to attend and mingle with politicians.
“We want to make sure people are at the centre of politics and there aren’t big influences coming from unions, from the private sector or deep-pocketed individuals,” Horgan said Wednesday.
Campaign finance reform was a key election promise for the New Democrats, who introduced six private member’s bills to the B.C. legislature since 2005 seeking campaign finance reforms. Each NDP bill was not supported by the former Liberal government.
The Green party also made campaign finance reform a major election promise and banned union and corporate donations to its party more than a year ago.
“We campaigned on getting big money out of politics. That’s going to happen,” said Horgan. “When you see the legislation you’ll see we’ve tried to be creative to address some of the issues of potential windfalls of revenues at the last stages of the B.C. Liberal administration and the new steps in an NDP administration.”
The NDP has continued to stage fundraising events since the election where participants still pay hefty sums to attend gatherings featuring appearances by the Horgan.
B.C.’s election in May did not produce a clear winner, but saw the NDP and Greens reach an agreement to combine vote totals to oust the Liberals after 16 years in office.
The Opposition Liberals, who now also support campaign finance reform, followed the NDP approach Wednesday and introduced a private member’s bill proposing to reform campaign financing, including banning donations to political parties from unions and corporations.
Liberal attorney general critic Andrew Wilkinson said the private member’s bill to amend B.C.’s Election Act is similar to a proposal they made in June, before the Liberals lost a confidence vote to the New Democrats.
“The proposed legislation will contain a ban on union and corporate donations and introduce limits to contributions and restrict those donations to individuals residing in B.C. who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents,” Wilkinson said.
Horgan said he viewed the Liberal private member’s bill as a sign B.C.’s legislature is united on quickly passing the campaign finance reform law to be introduced by the NDP.
Elections BC, the agency that monitors provincial elections, reported the B.C. Liberal Party raised $13.1 million in 2016, while the NDP took in $6.2 million and the Greens raised $757,268.
Current election finance law requires political parties to file political contribution statements by March 31 of each year.
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
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