B.C.’s new NDP government is already taking fire over the possible delay of its plan to ban corporate and union donations.
The ban, which would also set caps on individual donations, was one of the party’s key campaign promises.
The NDP had pledged to implement it as a first order of business.
But speaking with the Globe and Mail on Tuesday, Attorney General David Eby suggested the legislation could be delayed if the government decides to include a review of the province’s lobbying rules.
“I’m kind of baffled that there would be any delay,” said Dermod Travis, executive director of transparency watchdog Integrity BC.
Travis said the NDP could easily split the lobbyist review into a separate bill and pass political donation reform as soon as the legislature returns in September.
“Let’s take what there is — an absolute consensus in the legislature today — and let’s pass it. What’s that consensus? A ban on corporate, a ban on union donations, and a ban on donations from outside the province of British Columbia. There’s unanimity on that. Let’s move forward with it.”
Travis also suggested the NDP follow Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s playbook, and have the ban cover any donations collected since election day.
WATCH: New York Times report on BC: Canada’s ‘Wild West’ of political cash
In response, the attorney general said the government is still committed to bringing the ban in quickly.
“Rest assured that we are not delaying this, that we are doing it as quickly as we can,” Eby said.
But Eby hinted the bill could take longer than some people had hoped for.
“We want to make sure that we’re not leaving any loopholes. We don’t want to rush it through, and we want to do it properly. But that doesn’t make it any less of a priority.”
As to the prospect of making the ban retroactive to the May election, Eby remained noncommittal.
B.C.’s lax political donation laws have become an international story in recent months, with the New York Times labelling the province as the “‘Wild West’ of Canadian political cash.”
The NDP have tabled legislation banning corporate and union donations six times in the legislature since 2005, all failing to get support from the BC Liberals.
Both the NDP and Greens voted down a BC Liberal donation ban in June, in the run-up to a non-confidence motion that toppled the government and saw the New Democrats take power for the first time in 16 years.