Editorial — Financing provincial elections

A strict limit on donations, including those from unions and businesses, would be better than an outright ban.

A number of organizations and political parties are taking aim at the financing of political parties, citing the release last week of information about funds raised by the BC Liberals and the NDP.

The Liberals raised about $10 million in 2012, with about half of that coming from businesses. The NDP raised about $7 million, with $1 million coming from businesses and another $1.6 million from unions.

NDP leader Adrian Dix has agreed with Integrity B.C., an election watchdog group, the BC Conservative Party, the Green Party and independent MLAs that there should be a ban on donations from businesses and unions to political campaigns. This would bring B.C. into line with the federal government and most other provinces.

Is this really best for democracy?

Independent MLA Bob Simpson says that organizations giving donations to parties “buys access” and is at odds with one person, one vote.

Simpson, a former NDP MLA, says Dix may waffle on his pledge to end corporate and union donations, because his party has done well from both in the past year.

If there were no donations to parties from businesses and unions, would that limit political advertising? Not likely. Unions like the B.C. Teachers Federation have spent millions in advocacy ads over the years, and are doing so now. It is unlikely that any ban on donations would extend to advocacy ads, given that it would be unlikely to survive a court challenge.

B.C. has had, in the past, a robust political tradition that is quite unlike many other provinces. Many elections have been fought like class warfare. The Liberals, the latest version of the free enterprise coalition, get funds from many businesses, and the NDP (and the CCF before them) get funds from labour. What’s wrong with that?

A limit on donations from an individual business or union to a party, and a law that would prevent that organization from making simultaneous donations to individual candidates to try to get around the limit, would be sufficient in  limiting the influence of any one donor.

Businesses, unions, advocacy groups and individuals should be free to donate to political parties. Democracy is a battle of ideas, and getting ideas out into the public square requires money and effort.

No one should be able to buy an election. Individuals, groups and businesses should be able to fully participate.

Just Posted

VIDEO: After the trees fell, Hunter Park reopens in Langley City

The rebuilding of the park “has turned disaster into triumph,” mayor says

VIDEO: Two Langley City councillors to run for mayor

Val van den Broek and Paul Albrecht confirm their candidacies

VIDEO: Rollover crash in Langley’s Walnut Grove neighbourhood

No serious injuries reported in Friday night crash

LCS students stage slapstick version of ‘Macbeth’

Farndale Avenue play runs April 25 to 28 at Langley Christian High School

Teen’s outlook positive, despite living with ‘Stone Man Syndrome’

Alexandra Hoodikoff has a conditon that affects one in two million people

VIDEO: Largest LEGO exhibition in British Columbia held at River Rock Casino

Hundreds of builders come from around the world to display their LEGO creations

Hockey for Humboldt charity game Friday

Event in Maple Ridge will benefit bus tragedy victims

Austin Powers ‘Mini-Me’, Verne Troyer, dies at 49

Facebook page confirmed his death Saturday afternoon

Alberta man dead after snowmobile collision on B.C. mountain

The incident occurred on Boulder Mountain Friday morning

B.C. parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

Sunset Beach Park to close for 10 weeks to repair damage from 4-20 event

Vancouver Parks Board said a fence will be placed around the damaged field for ‘major rehabilitation’

16 of 20 fastest improving B.C. schools are public: Fraser Institute

Independent elementary schools remain at top of the chart in think tank’s annual report card

Police probe cause after skateboarder dies in collision with semi-truck

New Westminster police say its not certain whether the skateboarder was in crosswalk or near it

NAFTA: Talks continue through weekend in scramble to get a deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called negotiations ‘perpetual’

Most Read