ANDREW Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party, reacting to BC Liberal MLA John Rustad’s motion on “foreign influence” on B.C. public policy issues, said on Monday: “While we certainly welcome any opportunity for a good faith policy discussion on how to strengthen the integrity of B.C. politics, we are unclear of the policy implications of this motion.”
He added: “Last year, working with the B.C. NDP, we banned overseas donations to B.C. political parties, along with all corporate and union donations. This is the single most significant policy change ever made to limit direct foreign influence in our politics. Under the previous government, any individual or corporation from anywhere in the world could donate any amount of money directly to the coffers of political parties. We are proud to have been a part of making this change.
“The vague language used in Mr. Rustad’s motion makes it unclear how we could advance a policy on this issue. ‘Organizations’ could apply to businesses, academic institutions and other types of international institutions like the United Nations. Advocating for legislative and policy changes is an important part of the work that both charities and businesses do as members of our vibrant civil society. At the same time, it is important that this advocacy be transparent and fair, and we are proud to have worked with the B.C. NDP to strengthen the rules governing lobbying done by all types of organizations in B.C.
“Canada is proud of its international reputation as a good place to do business and of its engagement on the international stage on important issues like human rights and climate change. Canadians routinely donate to international charities, and Canadian charities do incredible work that our friends abroad support. Similarly, Canadian businesses welcome international investment, as well as the opportunity to do business in other countries. Canadian non-profits and registered charities are already entirely prohibited from engaging in partisan activities. They are restricted to only engaging in non-partisan political activity if it represents no more than 10% of their resources. The contours of this issue are thus far more complex than Mr. Rustad’s motion suggests, and we must ensure that our rules reflect Canada’s openness and are fair for business, non-profits and the public.”
Weaver said: “We continue to welcome the opportunity to collaborate with all members from all parties on sensible, legally enforceable reforms that will strengthen the integrity of B.C.’s democracy.”