Campaign finance reforms were major issue in last election
By Jillian McMullen, Staff Writer
The newly-formed BC NDP government has introduced legislation that would cap the dollar amount of personal donations allowed to political parties, one week after the BC Liberals put forward a similar bill.
British Columbia is one of the few provinces that does not currently have laws in place limiting contributions. “The wild west financing of the past will come to an end. It’s time people get to the center of our politics: Not people with deep pockets, but people,” said premier John Horgan at a press conference announcing this new bill on September 18.
The new government, while in opposition, was highly critical of the Liberal Party’s fundraising strategies, often referred to as “cash for access” events. “This bill is what we committed to pass. This bill is what we campaigned on,” said Horgan.
The recent Liberal bill was the same they failed to pass in the spring before the non-confidence vote that sparked the May 9 election. With several similar provisions, such as banning union and corporate funding to parties as well as donations made from outside the province, the Liberal bill set limits at $2,500 for personal donations, while the NDP suggest lowering individual contributions to $1,200.
The NDP bill has caused some controversy, as it would subsidize political parties using taxpaying money in the years following the bill’s implementation. Although not an uncommon practice in other Canadian provinces, Horgan had promised several months ago that taxpayer money would not be used to fund political parties.
The votes would be calculated on the votes received by each party in the last election. This would begin at $2.50 per vote in 2018, decreasing slowing until 2022 when it would be phased out, according to a CBC News article. They would also receive a reimbursement totaling $11-million in last year’s election on staff and office costs, according to the same article.