Public companies do full and continuous disclosure, so why can't the NPA and Vision Vancouver?
Under Canadian securities laws, publicly traded companies are required to provide full and continuous disclosure whenever there's a change in material facts.
Here's how Davis LLP explained this concept in one of its online bulletins: "Full disclosure allows investors to make an informed investment decision, true disclosure is accurate and not misleading and does not omit a fact that is either material or necessary to understand the facts already disclosed and plain disclosure must be understandable to investors and in plain language."
Full and continuous disclosure ensures there's a level playing field between average investors and company insiders.
Unfortunately, there isn't the same level of transparency in B.C.'s municipal-election rules.
You can forget about full and continuous disclosure when it comes to who's writing the cheques.
NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe has promised that if he's elected, he'll lead the most open government in Canada.
But now, there's no way of knowing who's financing the NPA and Vision Vancouver campaigns.
Under the present requirements, candidates and parties don't have to issue financial-disclosure statements until 120 days after the November 15 election.
That's when we learn about the massive donations, such as developer Rob Macdonald's $960,000 gift to the NPA in 2011.
In our wired world, it would be ridiculously easy for parties to post political donations on a website.
This could probably be done within 72 hours of the cheques being written.
The B.C. Liberal government could easily amend the Vancouver Charter to require registered political parties to provide weekly disclosure of contributions.
The premier won't order this, so it won't happen. To deprive voters of information about campaign contributors before an election undermines democracy in our city.
This offers a perfect opportunity for LaPointe to demonstrate his interest in transparency and accountability.
After all, he has said he's in charge of the NPA.
Let LaPointe declare that his party will reveal its donations on a weekly basis and then challenge the others, in the name of transparency, to follow suit.
I'll even give LaPointe the media sound bite: "The NPA is respecting Vancouver voters by providing full and continuous disclosure of campaign contributions. I call upon Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver to do the same."
Keep in mind that I don't expect the NPA or Vision Vancouver to release the names of their donors until the 120-day period has elapsed after the election. That's the way it's always been done.
If it turns out I'm right, then we should take any of the candidates' other claims about enhancing transparency with a requisite grain of salt.