Speaker Linda Reid

Clark aims to force donation disclosure

Battle over corporate, union donations prompts Speaker to rule NDP out of order

Opposition members were repeatedly ruled out of order in the B.C. legislature Monday as they demanded the BC Liberal government reform the province’s campaign finance laws by banning “big money” donations from corporations and unions.

Premier Christy Clark revealed her own version of reform instead, legislation to force all parties to disclose donations within two weeks of receiving them, as the BC Liberal Party started doing in January.

“In my view this should happen before the next election,” Clark said, suggesting that Election Act amendments introduced Monday may be pushed through before the legislature adjourns at the end of this week.

NDP leader John Horgan and other opposition members were cut off by Speaker Linda Reid as they tried to press the government to turn off the corporate donation taps that helped the BC Liberal Party collect $12 million last year.

Horgan later described the “sad spectacle” of watching Reid apparently taking signals from BC Liberal house leader Mike de Jong about what questions should be accepted.

“The premier chose to get up on occasion, chose to stay down on occasion,” he said.

Clark also proposed an independent committee to review B.C.’s election financing rules, the last in Canada where unlimited donations are accepted from corporations, unions and foreign sources.

Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver said there has been a series of independent recommendations, from the Information and Privacy Commissioner and a legislature committee, and all have been ignored by the BC Liberal government.

“We don’t need that,” Weaver said. “We know what the problem is.”

Clark said the independent panel could review the NDP and Green proposals and others, reviewing the system every two elections, similar to the legislated review of electoral boundaries.

Horgan called Clark’s proposal “a deathbed conversion” to campaign finance reform, as the RCMP review donations from lobbyists that may have violated the Election Act by failing to disclose the true source of the money.

 

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