Liberals and NDP spar over reform on political donations in B.C.

VICTORIA — B.C.’s Liberal party has re-introduced a bill to ban corporate and union political donations in an attempt to embarrass the New Democrat government into rushing its election promise to reform political financing.

The high-profile election issue roared to life again in the legislature Wednesday, with both parties accusing each of hypocrisy — the Liberals for flip-flopping on their past opposition to a donation ban, and the NDP for delaying promised legislation while holding the same kind of cash-for-access fundraisers they used to criticize the Liberals for holding.

The Opposition Liberals introduced their private member’s bill to ban corporate and union donations on Wednesday afternoon. It was similar to the bill the Liberals introduced while in government on June 26, which was defeated by the Greens and NDP before they toppled the government on a confidence vote.

The Liberal bill proposes a $5,000 annual cap on individual donations — $2,500 to any one party and $2,500 in total to candidates and constituency associations. It would ban in-kind donations of staff, donations from foreign citizens and from people outside B.C., require prompt disclosure of donations by political parties and ban loans except from chartered Canadian banks or credit unions.

“Since the members opposite didn’t read the bill last time this will give them a chance to do so,” said Liberal MLA Andrew Wilkinson.

Attorney General David Eby said the NDP government will introduce its own bill to ban corporate and union donations next week.

“It’s now a period of remarkable agreement across all three parties, that we need to ban union and corporate donations and strictly limit individual donations,” said Eby. “The bill not only does that, it goes a step forward and addresses issues like leadership contests, conferences, and so on and third parties. And so I think that when people see the bill they’ll recognize it’s a very comprehensive regime. It will be a leading bill in Canada.”

Eby said the proposed legislation will be retroactive on donations made since the May 9 election, and contain a personal donation cap somewhere between Alberta’s $3,000 cap and Quebec’s $100 cap.

The NDP spent considerable time in the past year criticizing the Liberals for holding fundraisers in which wealthy donors bought access to meet cabinet ministers and the premier, raising the potential they were influencing government decisions with their money.

Since the NDP formed government in July it has held several similar fundraisers, including a $500-a-person golf tournament with …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Politics

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