VICTORIA B.C. – B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver is calling on Elections BC and the RCMP to launch an immediate investigation into allegations that Premier Christy Clark’s B.C. Liberals have been accepting illegal donations from lobbyists.
Media reports over the weekend allege that many donations to the Liberals are made fraudulently or in violation of the Election Act and that the Liberals are encouraging this behaviour by holding cash for access events. The Liberals raised more than $12 million last year, more than any provincial political party in power. The B.C. NDP, which also accepts both corporate and union donations, have also allegedly pressured lobbyists for donations. The NDP have not released fundraising figures for 2016 but raised $3 million in 2015.
“The report raises very serious questions about influence peddling and corruption of our democratic process,” Weaver says. “The police and Elections BC have a duty to investigate the flow of money through lobbyists to both the Liberals and the NDP.”
He called for urgent action, saying British Columbians have a right know if any laws have been broken before they cast their ballots in the May 9 election. Weaver also called for an immediate end to so-called “pay-to-play” and “cash-for-access” schemes, and that all monies raised in a questionable manner be returned to the donors.
The article published by The Globe and Mail on the weekend is the latest in a series of troubling reports on political fundraising in B.C. The New York Times in January described B.C. as the ‘Wild West’ for its fund-raising practices that are outlawed federally and in most other provinces. Clark accepts money from lobbyists, corporate and foreign donors and also engages in fundraising events at private homes where wealthy individuals and lobbyists pay thousands of dollars in exchange for exclusive access to the Premier.
The latest reports provide more disturbing detail on the fundraising practices; of the 53 frequent donors to the Liberals, 13 work for wealthy foreign companies or individuals. It also alleges donations are being hidden in violation of one of the few fundraising rules that do exist in B.C.
“These disturbing practices must end,” says Weaver.
He called on both the Liberals and NDP to follow the lead of the B.C. Green Party which in September stopped accepting corporate and union donations. While a ban on corporate and union donations is just one necessary part of reforming B.C.’s political finance laws, it has been received by B.C. voters with strong support. The B.C. Green Party raised $763,667 in 2016, nearly double what it raised in the previous fiscal year.
“B.C. must stop selling out to corporate and foreign interests that have exploited the province’s resources and left our cities unaffordable,” says Weaver. “It’s time for British Columbians to take back B.C.”
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The New York Times
British Columbia: The ‘Wild West’ of Canadian Political Cash, Jan. 13, 2017
The Globe and Mail
British Columbia: The ‘wild west’ of fundraising, Mar. 4, 2017