OP/ED: Clark and Bond wrong on public, wrong on electoral finance reform
The BC Liberal government may have committed itself to transparency, new ideas and engaging with British Columbians in its October 3rd Throne speech, but according to IntegrityBC the memo doesn’t seem to have quite reached every minister.
The non-partisan organization was reacting to a letter it received from Attorney General Shirley Bond on behalf of herself, Premier Christy Clark and the Hon. Pat Bell that dismissed the organization’s call for electoral finance reform with a stroke of the pen.
Bond’s assertion that the government “has not heard from the public that they are prepared to fund political parties through public funds, which would be a likely alternative should private donations be limited” is both disingenuous and shows that the Liberals just don’t get it when it comes to engaging with British Columbians.
“Bond’s claim begs the question which ‘public’ is the Liberal government listening to: working British Columbians and their families or the Albertans who forked out $500 each to attend Premier Clark’s fundraiser at the exclusive Calgary Petroleum Club?,” asked IntegrityBC executive director Dermod Travis.
Travis noted that the BC NDP, the BC Conservative party and the BC Green party have all called for a ban on corporate and union funding of political parties with varying positions from each on additional reforms.
And according to a November public opinion survey commissioned by IntegrityBC only 28.3 per cent of respondents support corporate and union funding of political parties and over 75 per cent support a cap on individual donations. The OraclePoll Research survey found that 40 per cent of respondents view the Clark government as arrogant and out-of-touch.
“Who exactly told Clark and Bond that British Columbians want their political parties to be beholden to companies and unions that can write out six figure cheques other than the signatories of those cheques themselves?,” asked Travis.
Based on Bond’s reply, IntegrityBC even wonders whether the Clark government has bothered to read the organization’s position on electoral finance reform.
While the organization is calling for a ban on corporate and union funding of political parties and a cap on personal donations, it’s recommending a Citizen’s Assembly to study and make binding recommendations on other reforms and has not taken a stand on public funding of political parties.
“Public funding is not the natural consequence of limiting private donations as Clark and Bond contend,” said Travis. “This is a policy choice that should be decided by British Columbians through an open process that strikes the right balance between various reforms and not in the back rooms of the Premier and Attorney General’s offices.”
NOTE: The Minister’s reply to Integrity BC is attached to this article.
IntegrityBC is a non-partisan organization championing accountability and integrity in BC politics. By empowering British Columbians, IntegrityBC hopes to change politics in BC letting citizens regain their trust in government.