BC Liberal MLA Andrew Wilkinson on Wednesday introduced a comprehensive bill to reform campaign finance that could be passed this week and bring the needed reforms into effect immediately, the BC Liberal Party announced.
“The new government is saying they’re having problems in preparing a bill for introduction, even though they said it would be the first bill they brought in,” said Wilkinson, who serves as justice critic. “I am pleased to be able to help them with the introduction of this bill. As the NDP used to say, ‘we can pass it in a day’ and bring these reforms – which all sides of the chamber agree on – into effect now.”
The proposals in this bill would set annual contribution limits, require “real-time” disclosure of donations, and ensure greater transparency and accountability of political parties and candidates to the public.
The bill includes the following:
* A ban on corporate and union donations, including donations in kind, to political parties, their candidates and constituency associations.
* A ban on foreign donations, with the requirement that only individuals residing in British Columbia and who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents are eligible to donate.
* A maximum annual contribution limit of $2,500 for individuals to any one political party, and up to $2,500 to a party’s candidates and constituency associations (for a total allowable annual limit of $5,000 per year).
* Loans and guarantees to political parties and candidates must be only by a Canadian chartered bank or credit union at a fair rate of interest.
“The NDP and Greens had the opportunity to pass legislation in June that would have prevented the Premier from having cash-for-access events on golf courses, in ballrooms and most recently private dinners with convicted criminals,” said Wilkinson. “Here’s another chance for the Greens to show they are willing to stand up for a principle they claim to believe in, that campaign promises do matter. I hope all parties will join us in passing this bill and getting the reforms in place now.”
GREEN Party Leader Andrew Weaver, reacting to the BC Liberals’ move, said: “After B.C. was internationally derided as the wild west of politics due to our lack of campaign finance laws, I am delighted that we finally have all-party agreement on the need for reform.
“I am also encouraged by our good-faith consultations with the government and by the Attorney General’s statement today that the legislation resulting from our consultations will be tabled next week.
“Now that there is a government that has the confidence of the house, the B.C. Green caucus looks forward to genuine, productive debate in good faith on this crucial issue so that we can finally get big money out of B.C. politics.”