B.C. NDP government moves to outlaw big money from municipal elections

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      The B.C. NDP government has introduced legislation banning corporate and union donations in local elections.

      Bill 15, or the Local Elections Campaign Financing Amendment Act, 2017, also limits individual contributions to $1,200.

      The changes mirror the provincial election campaign finance reforms brought forward by the government last September.

      Candidates are going to be subject to spending limits. However, this will not apply for elector organizations.

      The amendments are anticipated to cover municipal elections starting in 2018.

      Bill 15 was tabled Monday (October 30) by Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson.

      “With this legislation, people can be confident that their local and provincial governments will be working for all voters, not just those able to write the largest cheques,” Robinson said in a media release.

      Referring to Bill 3, or Election Act Amendment, 2017, which was filed on September 18 by Attorney General David Eby, Robinson noted that the government earlier took action to “big money out of politics at the provincial level”.

      “These amendments will make sure that democracy at the local level works for everyone, not just a select few,” Robinson said about the two bills reforming election campaign rules.

      The move was welcomed by the Green Party of B.C., whose three elected members in the legislative assembly support the minority government.

      “The undue influence of corporate and union donations, particularly from sectors like the real estate development, has eroded British Columbians’ trust that their government is putting their interests first,” B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver said in a media release.

      According to Weaver, 2017 “will go down in history as the beginning of the end of the wild west of B.C. campaign finance”.

      On September 28 this year, the Union of B.C. Municipalities passed a resolution during its annual convention urging the province to change campaign finance regulations.

      The proposed amendments in Bill 15 include prohibiting individual donations from people who are neither inhabitants of B.C. nor Canadian citizens and permanent residents

      Also, loans to candidates, elector organizations, third-party sponsors, and assent-voting advertising sponsors must come from a savings institution.

      The legislation also sets spending limits for candidates, but not for elector organizations.

      According to the media release, the expense limit will be $10,000 for mayoral candidates and $5,000 for all other candidates in communities with a population of fewer than 10,000 people.

      “In communities with a population of 10,000 or more, expense limits will be determined using a per-capita formula to recognize that the size of the community can affect a candidate’s campaign costs,” the release states.