B.C. Liberals, NDP fight over fundraisers

Big spenders attend private events with Premier Christy Clark, NDP leader John Horgan

NDP leader John Horgan plans to renew his party’s call to get the “big money” out of B.C. politics, after collecting his own share at a $5,000-a-plate breakfast in Toronto this week.

Horgan’s fundraiser came as NDP critics were accusing Premier Christy Clark of selling access to her government, with a $10,000-a-plate private dinner in Vancouver.

Horgan said when the legislature session resumes next week, he intends to re-introduce a bill to ban all corporate and union donations to political parties. It will be the fifth time the NDP has called for the change, which would restrict parties to individual donations only.

Clark, whose B.C. Liberal Party reaps far more in corporate donations than the NDP typically receives from unions, now says she wants “real time” disclosure of donations to parties, and will ask B.C.’s Chief Electoral Officer to make that change.

Both parties have followed the letter of the current law, which requires annual disclosure. In election years, it means voters don’t find out who has financed campaigns until after the election.

“They should happen throughout the year,” Clark said Thursday. “It would help make the process more transparent.”

Horgan replied that greater transparency avoids the issue of private access to government decision-makers in exchange for big donations. He said the NDP will continue to follow the current law and make only annual disclosures until the rules change for everyone.

“If [Clark] was genuine about taking big money out, or the access question or the influence question, she could support our private member’s bill or she could bring one of her own forward,” Horgan said.

Alberta NDP Premer Rachel Notley banned corporate and union donations as soon as her government was elected last year, but has since faced criticism for participating in private gatherings with individuals paying $5,000 or more to attend.

 

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