British Columbia

B.C. government to ban union and corporate political donations

The B.C. government has introduced legislation to ban union and corporate political donations, including political donations from outside of British Columbia.

New government bill also caps individual political donations at $1,200

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver and B.C. Premier John Horgan address the media after announcing legislation to ban "big money" from provincial politics on Monday. (Richard Zussman/CBC)

The B.C. government has introduced legislation to ban union and corporate political donations, including political donations from outside of British Columbia.

The government is also putting in place a $1,200 cap on individual donations. The cap is much smaller than the $5,000 the B.C. Liberals proposed in similar legislation and would be the second-lowest limit in the country. Quebec has the lowest cap in the country at $100 per person. 

The B.C. Green Party worked with the NDP on the new rules and is expected to support them. Once they are voted into law, the use of all restricted or banned donations made after May 9, 2017, the last provincial election, will not be allowed in future elections. 

"We're reforming campaign finance rules to make sure government's actions and decisions benefit everyone, not just those with deep pockets," said Premier John Horgan.

The legislation will be debated in the legislature before it is officially passed into law. 

The wide ranging legislation was a major part of the power sharing agreement between the B.C. Greens and the B.C. NDP. 

The proposed legislation also caps contributions to third-party election advertisers and will require public reporting of all fundraisers attended by major party leaders, cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries.

To crack down on so-called "cash-for-access" fundraisers at private residences, the government is imposing a donation cap of $100 per person. 

Former premier Christy Clark was criticized for attending fundraisers at private homes where donors paid more than $10,000 to be there. 

"These unprecedented changes will not only end the "Wild West" of campaign fundraising, they are an important step in modernizing our democracy," said Eby. 

The most recent Elections B.C. report shows the NDP raised $9,442,746 and the Liberals, $7,934,581, from the beginning of the year up until election day. The B.C. Green Party, which refused to accept corporate and union donations during its campaign, raised $869,308.

According to the report, about 40 per cent of the NDP's donations came from unions during the recent election. Almost 60 per cent of Liberal donations came from corporations. 

In order to provide political parties support to deal with the proposed changes, the government is putting forward a transitional annual allowance.

Over the next four years, taxpayers will foot a bill of $6.8 million for the B.C. NDP and the B.C. Liberal parties. The Green Party will be allotted $2.8 million over the same four year period. 


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