B.C. NDP introduce legislation to ban big money in politics, includes corporate and union donation ban

Attorney General David Eby says the long-awaited bill on campaign finance reform is expected today.
Attorney General David Eby says the long-awaited bill on campaign finance reform is expected today.

A bill intended to overhaul the way elections are financed in British Columbia has made its debut in the B.C. legislature.

If passed, the Act will limit individual contributions to $1,200 a year as well as ban corporate and union donations.

“We will be banning foreign donations, we will be ensuring that only citizens or permanent residents of British Columbia donate to political parties, and we will also be reducing spending limits for parties and candidates,” said Premier John Horgan, in announcing the plan.

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“The days of limitless donations, a lack of transparency and foreign and corporate influence over our elections are history,” added Attorney General David Eby in a statement.

WATCH: Political fundraising under scrutiny in B.C.

Click to play video: 'Political fundraising under scrutiny in B.C.'
Political fundraising under scrutiny in B.C.

The proposed legislation would also cap contributions to third-party election advertisers.

It would also require ongoing public reporting of all fundraisers attended by major party leaders, cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries, including those held in private residences.

Fundraisers held in people’s homes will only be able to charge $100 a person.

The act also proposes reducing campaign spending limits for candidates and political parties by about 25 per cent.

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“The Election Amendment Act, 2017, also introduces a transitional annual allowance for political parties over a set term of five years. The allowance diminishes in value over time and is intended to help political parties transition to the new campaign finance rules,” reads a release from the NDP.

A committee will be in charge of reviewing the allowance to determine if it should be continued.

In a statement, BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver called the bill “historic,” adding that so-called big money has been a defining feature of what was wrong with B.C. politics.

However, the opposition BC Liberals were less impressed.

“They’ve arbitrarily chosen a figure of $1,200 for the amount that is the cap for donations, and clearly that will suit their interests,” said Liberal MLA Andrew Wilkinson.

“There’s no rationale for it other than it suits the interests of the NDP. So this is a big disappointment.”

Wilkinson said the Liberals would be voting against the per-vote subsidy for parties included in the legislation.

Last week, the BC Liberals unsuccessfully put forward the same last-minute legislation they introduced before the June confidence vote that toppled the party after 16 years of rule.

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While in opposition, the NDP introduced campaign finance reform bills six times.

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