NDP Leader Carole James promises to ban "big money" donations

The B.C. NDP will ban corporate and trade-union contributions to political parties if it forms a government after the May 12 provincial election.

Only individuals, as laid out in a bill introduced last year by NDP Leader Carole James, will be allowed to make contributions.

"Let's get big money out of politics," James told reporters in response to the Straight 's question about campaign-finance reform during a campaign stop in Vancouver on April 21. "Let's take a look at making sure that it's the people who make the decision about the government they elect."

The 2008 financial reports submitted by the NDP and the governing B.C. Liberal party in March to Elections B.C. show the extent of corporate and trade-union financing in provincial politics.

The B.C. Liberals raised a total of $7.5 million last year, of which $4.7 million came from corporations. Unincorporated business and commercial organizations accounted for an additional $484,588. The party received a paltry $3,040 from trade unions.

Individual donors gave the B.C. Liberals $1.9 million, almost double the $1.1 million the NDP got from individual contributors.

All in all, the NDP raised $2.9 million in contributions in 2008, and $624,045.42 was given by trade unions, which form the party's base of support. In contrast to the ruling party, the NDP got only $32,100 from corporations, and an even smaller $1,450 from unincorporated business and commercial organizations.

"I believe it's important that we bring in accountability, whether it's a lobbyist registration act, whether it's campaign-finance reform," James said.

According to James, an NDP government would include election financing in discussions about electoral reform, particularly "banning union and corporate donations and making sure the public is in charge of the electoral process again".

In May 2008, James introduced Bill M 215—the Campaign Finance Reform Act, 2008—but it wasn't passed by the legislature.

"We're going to proceed with that if we win the election," Vancouver-Kingsway NDP MLA Adrian Dix said.