- John horganB.C. NDP Leader
- Andrew WeaverB.C. Green Party Leader
Stop Big Money in B.C. Politics
Money to the Ref? We don’t allow that in the Olympics or hockey or baseball or other sports – but in B.C. politics it’s legal!
B.C.’s Liberal government have been caught up in a political fundraising scandal for the past several months after Premier Christy Clark was caught holding high-priced, secretive, exclusive fundraising events. Big business executives and other wealthy people are paying up to $20,000 to meet behind closed doors with Premier Clark and other Cabinet ministers.
The B.C. NDP have also held high-priced, exclusive events where donors pay to meet with NDP leader John Horgan.
B.C. has one of the most unethical and undemocratic political finance systems in Canada – it’s truly a best-government-money-can-buy system. Businesses, unions and other organizations, even foreign businesses and interest groups, can donate an unlimited amount to B.C. political parties and politicians.
To their credit, the B.C. NDP and the B.C. Green Party have called for a ban on donations from corporations, unions and other organizations, and limits on donations from individuals, and as of September 2016 the B.C. Green Party only accepts donations from individuals. The B.C. NDP have also called for: a ban on partisan government advertising; a limit on pre-election spending by parties and candidates, and; a ban on parties paying their leaders a salary. However, even more changes are needed to stop the unethical and undemocratic influence of big money in B.C. politics.
The B.C. Liberals are resisting any changes that would stop them receiving more of their money through big donations from big businesses and wealthy individuals.
Please sign this petition calling on the B.C. parties to work together to stop big money in B.C. politics by banning donations from businesses and other organizations, lowering the donation limit to $100 a year, and making other key changes – as Quebec did in 2013 to stop wealthy people and interest groups from using money as an undemocratic, unethical way of influencing politicians and parties.
Politicians are supposed to be the referees who decide what is in the public interest – so why would we allow big businesses, interest groups or wealthy people to buy them off with huge donations, including secret donations?
The Globe and Mail revealed last spring that B.C.’s Liberal Premier Christy Clark, and her Cabinet ministers, and the opposition party leaders, were all holding high-priced, secret exclusive events where politicians sell access to themselves in return for a big donation.
Despite the public outcry about these unethical fundraising events, the B.C. Liberals are resisting making any changes. The B.C. NDP and the B.C. Green Party have called for some changes but not enough to stop big money's influence in B.C. politics.
Please see background information at:
Democracy Watch (October 26, 2016): Democracy Watch challenges B.C. Conflict of Interest Commissioner’s ruling on Premier Clark’s high-priced, exclusive fundraising events
- Premier of British Columbia
- B.C. NDP Leader
- B.C. Green Party Leader
Dear Premier Clark, Mr. Horgan and Mr. Weaver:
B.C. has one of the most unethical and undemocratic political finance systems in Canada – it is truly a best-government-money-can-buy system. Along with Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and the Yukon, B.C. allows unlimited donations from corporations, unions and other organizations, and individuals, even if they are not located in or don’t live in the jurisdiction.
Even worse, party leaders in B.C. have held high-priced, exclusive, secretive fundraising events where business, union representatives and other wealthy people are paying up to $20,000 to meet behind closed doors with the Premier, Cabinet ministers and party leaders.
Politicians are supposed to be the referees who decide what is in the public interest – so why do B.C. political party leaders continue to allow wealthy people to buy them off with huge donations, including secret donations? In hockey, baseball, soccer, basketball and other sports, referees are not allowed to accept even small gifts from players. If it’s important in sports to have impartial referees who are not under the influence of money or other gifts given by players on any team, it is even more important not to have politicians governing under the influence of donations from anyone.
Quebec has Canada’s most ethical, most democratic political finance system. It started in the late 1970s when it banned donations from businesses, unions and other organizations, and limited individuals to donating $2,000 annually.
However, Quebec’s election agency didn’t do much of anything until 2011 to audit donations, and when it did look it found $12.8 million in likely funneled donations from 2006-2011. Big businesses were giving their executives $2,000 each to pass on to provincial political parties.
The results of this audit, along with a massive political corruption scandal that exploited other loopholes in Quebec’s system, led Quebec to lower the donation limit to $100 annually, and to implement public funding to ensure parties and election candidates still had enough funding for their activities and campaigns.
Please make the following key changes to B.C.’s laws to match Quebec’s world-leading system, and to help democracy grow in B.C.:
1. ban donations by corporations, unions and other organizations (Quebec enacted such a ban in the late 1970s);
2. limit annual combined total donations of money, property and services by individuals to $100-200 to each party (Quebec’s limit is $100), and establish the same limit on candidates donating to their own campaign, with donations routed through the election watchdog agency (as in Quebec);
3. prohibit loans to political parties, riding associations and candidates, except from a public fund (with loans limited to the average annual amount of donations received during the previous two years);
4. limit spending leading up to, and during election campaigns by parties, nomination race and election candidates, third party interest groups, and also candidates in party leadership races;
5. require disclosure of all donations and gifts of money, property, services and volunteer labour given to any party, riding association, politician, nomination race, election or party leadership candidate, including the identity of the donor’s employer, and board and executive affiliations (and the identity of anyone who assists with any fundraising or fundraising event);
6. give annual public funding for parties based on each vote received during the last election (no more than $1 per vote, with a portion required to be shared with riding associations);
7. give annual public funding for parties matching up to the first $500,000 raised (as in Quebec);
8. give public funding matching up to $25,000 that each nomination race and election candidate (including an independent candidate) raises (similar to Quebec's matching funding system), and public funding matching up to $100,000 that each party leadership campaign candidate raises, and;
9. require election, donation and ethics watchdogs to conduct annual random audits to ensure all the rules are being followed by everyone;
10. Elections B.C., or the Auditor General, must be empowered to review all government advertising and to stop or change any ad that is partisan or misleading, and;
11. all penalties for violating donation and spending rules must be increased to minimum $100,000 fine and a multi-year jail term, and loss of any severance payment, and a partial clawback of any pension payments, and;
12. Elections B.C. must be required to disclose the rulings they make on all complaints they receive as soon as they make the ruling, and to disclose the rulings they make on all investigations they initiate themselves.
Please let me know what you will do to ensure that these changes are made as soon as possible. I will decide which party I vote for in the next B.C. election based in part on what changes each party pushes for to stop big money in B.C. politics. I look forward to hearing from you.
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