Premier defends exclusive dinner at Okanagan winery

Click to play video 'B.C. Premier defends high-priced and exclusive fundraising dinner in the Okanagan.' B.C. Premier defends high-priced and exclusive fundraising dinner in the Okanagan.
B.C. Premier defends high-priced and exclusive fundraising dinner in the Okanagan – Jan 27, 2017

B.C. Premier Christy Clark is defending an expensive and exclusive fundraising dinner at an Okanagan winery Thursday night.

“This is the way political fundraising has always been done in Canada,” Clark said. “We have always raised money in the private sector.”

Speaking at a breakfast event hosted by the Greater Westside Board of Trade Friday morning, the premier told the media there are only two ways to for political parties to raise money.

“One is to raise money from private individuals and one is to take the money from taxpayers and taxpayers won’t get a say which political party they donate to so I don’t support that,” said Clark.

Twenty people paid $5000 to wine and dine with the Premier at Mission Hill Winery on Thursday. The exclusive group was shuttled into the winery in dark vehicles under what appeared to be a veil of secrecy. When asked why all the secrecy, Clark said Friday morning “I wouldn’t say that,’ yet she refused to reveal who was at the dinner.

Story continues below advertisement

“In the next couple of weeks you will find out because it will all be reported,” Clark said.

By law, details about donors must be released once a year. But Clark is changing that, telling her party to report it in what she’s calling ‘real time’, once every two weeks.

“I think making sure that money is reported in real time is a really big change. I think we are only province that is doing that,” Clark said. “That also offers a level of transparency. What people want to know is when someone donates to a political party it isn’t linked to a decision that government made and I think it is a lot easier to see that, to make it more transparent if we do it in real time.”

Clark admits the fundraising system isn’t perfect but she says it’s better than the alternative.

“I think the system we have is imperfect but I certainly think it is better than asking, forcing taxpayers to fund political parties.” Clark said.

On Friday morning, the Prime Minister announced plans to enact a new law to limit cash-for-access fundraising. When asked if B.C. would follow suit, Clark didn’t rule it out but made no promises.

“Well we will see how it works,” Clark said. “I think it is an interesting idea so we are watching it.”