One of the greatest pleasures of being a journalist is forcing politicians to address issues that they would rather not discuss.
On July 24 in the interest of enhancing transparency, I wrote a column urging NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe to reveal his party's donations on a weekly basis.
On July 31, I followed this up with another column noting that the NPA and Vision Vancouver were refusing to promise to release financial donations before the election.
We also posted an online survey asking if municipal political parties should publicly disclose financial contributions on a website within a week of them being received. Nearly 90 percent responded "yes".
On October 8, Straight reporter Carlito Pablo revealed that a candidate for mayor in the City of North Vancouver, George Pringle, had chosen to disclose his contributions on a website as they came in.
“I hope to start a trend,” Pringle told the Straight. “I hope to lead by example and other people will follow my example. If enough people do it, then the province will take on the idea and, hopefully, they’ll make it a law for the entire province.”
Still, the NPA and Vision Vancouver refused to go along with the idea.
Then at a public debate at Langara College on October 22, I asked LaPointe why he wouldn't demonstrate transparency by disclosing donations before the election. His answer was that this was a "valid question", but suggested that Vision Vancouver should be the first to do this.
So then I asked Vision Vancouver's leader, Mayor Gregor Robertson, if he would disclose his party's donations before voting day. He responded that Vision Vancouver was "working within the laws as they exist today"."
In other words, neither party was prepared to provide this information more than a week ago, notwithstanding LaPointe's claim that transparency was his policy hill to die on.
That prompted this amusing tweet from city-hall watchdog Bob Mackin.
Today in an abrupt about-face, LaPointe now says that he will reveal a list of NPA campaign donors by November 7.
That prompted Vision Vancouver to declare that it, too, will also publicize its list of campaign contributors this weekend.
However, neither party has explicitly stated whether it will disclose the amounts given by each donor.
Without dollar figures, these lists aren't worth the paper they're printed on and really amount to a phony form of transparency.
There would have been no transparency in 2011 had NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton included developer Rob Macdonald's name on a list of donors before the election without disclosing the size of his gift: $960,000.
If Vision Vancouver and the NPA think they can get away with just revealing names and no dollar amounts, they're wrong.
This will simply force more residents to cast ballots for either COPE's Meena Wong or independent candidate Bob Kasting.
That's because the level of mistrust over who's paying for all those billboards around town is higher than it's ever been before.