B.C. Greens leader Andrew Weaver and Premier John Horgan announce legislation banning corporate and union donations at the B.C. legislature, Sept. 18, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. VIEWS: Politicians loot public treasury

John Horgan’s sudden reversal puts parties on welfare

It is astonishing how badly Premier John Horgan mishandled his sudden announcement that after a decade of crusading against “big money” in B.C. politics, he was reversing his often-stated position and moving to siphon millions from the provincial treasury to prop up established political parties.

For someone who can’t stop bragging about leading a new government for “the people” instead of special interests, Horgan’s decision to lavishly reward his own special interest, and to do it while totally misreading the public mood, is difficult to understand. He’s been premier for two whole months and he’s already lost touch.

It wasn’t just a couple of interviews in the lead-up to the spring election, where he either denied any intention of replacing corporate and union donations with “big money” from taxpayers, or professed to have “no opinion” because an independent panel would take that decision from politicians’ hands.

It was his constant reference to legislation the NDP tabled six times in opposition, which made no mention of a party subsidy starting at $2.50 per vote. That evolving NDP legislation came to include an arms-length panel to remove the obvious conflict of interest that occurs when politicians set their own pay and perks.

That’s all discarded now, replaced by a brazen looting of the public purse, as predicted by B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark during the election campaign. Horgan mocked that as “alternative facts” at the time.

Lost in the main looting is another provision for taxpayers to reimburse political parties for half of their election-year expenses, on top of the per-vote subsidy and the generous tax credits for those who may still wish to donate voluntarily to political parties.

(When this welfare-for-parties scheme was introduced at the federal level by Jean Chretien, one of the effects was to prop up the separatist Bloc Quebecois for years as their voluntary cash dried up.)

In the case of the NDP, your taxes replace the compulsory union dues of United Steelworkers members, whose leaders directly paid top NDP campaign staff in the election this spring to the tune of more than $600,000. Unions win, you lose.

All told, it comes to about $27 million in tax money handed to the NDP, Green Party and the B.C. Liberals over the next four years, in what Horgan falsely claimed is a temporary measure.

Green leader Andrew Weaver allows that his party would benefit by millions in unearned subsidies, adding that the big parties would be in “free fall” without an unearned substitute for corporate and union donations. This claim is questionable at best.

The government’s breakdown of B.C. campaign financing shows individual donations totalling $6.8 million in 2016, almost as much as the $7.1 million from corporations. Unions came in at $1.7 million, a total that has been declining as smaller individual donations have climbed.

Indeed, Horgan has boasted for years about the NDP’s success with individual donors. Former party president Moe Sihota lamented a few years ago that much of it comes from the wills of dead people, but no matter. Now “crowdfunding” is all the rage, as demonstrated so ably by Justin Trudeau and others at the federal level.

Stephen Harper did away with welfare for political parties, and the Conservatives have continued to kick the federal Liberals’ butts on individual fundraising, even last year as opposition with an interim leader.

This is a key issue for the B.C. Liberal leadership contest. Penticton MLA Dan Ashton was first to state he won’t accept direct taxpayer money for his election campaign. Maybe he should have run.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Northern California man charged with aiding fugitive Brandon Teixeira

Sam Koh, 40, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to harbouring Teixeira

South Surrey couple donates $1M to hospital’s children’s centre campaign

Donation brings hospital foundation’s fundraising goal within $1 million

The Surrey Hospice Society’s Toolbox thrift store reopens in Cloverdale

Before she fell ill, Janet Child revamped second-hand tool store

Prolific offender nabbed at Surrey SkyTrain after police say he skipped paying fare

Officers arrested Reginald Simon at Scott Road SkyTrain after discovering he had 11 outstanding warrants

Cloverdale hospital could take pressure off Langley Memorial

Fraser Health says about 20 per cent of patients at LMH are from Surrey

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

Snowfall warning issued for Coquihalla Highway

Up to 25 cm of snow is expected to fall in the region by Thursday

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Most Read