Big money banned in B.C. politics

Unions and corporations are going to have to find somebody else to give their five and six-figure cheques to because they’re no longer valid for politicians in B.C.

“We’re reforming campaign finance rules to make sure government’s actions and decisions benefit everyone, not just those with deep pockets,” said Premier John Horgan.

But local MLA Dan Ashton, who ran a campaign earlier this year that cost more than $100,000, isn’t a fan of the changes.

“Although this bill contains much of what the NDP had promised when in Opposition, it also contains something new — specifically, $16 million in direct taxpayer subsidies to political parties over the next four years,” Ashton said. “This is in spite of the pre-existing generous tax credit for donating to political parties.”

“This legislation will make sure 2017 was the last big-money election in our province,” said Attorney General David Eby. “The days of limitless donations, a lack of transparency and foreign and corporate influence over our elections are history.”

On top of banning donations from corporations and unions, individual donations are being capped at $1,200 per year (Quebec is the only province with a lower limit); donations can no longer be accepted from out of province; new limits on third-party advertisers; all fundraisers attended by prominent politicians must be reported; campaign spending limits for candidates and political parties are being reduced by about 25 per cent; and new penalties for those caught breaking the rules.

In the 2017 election, Ashton’s campaign received nearly $60,000 from individual and corporate donations and more than $40,000 in transfers from party headquarters – those amounts may be difficult to match in future election campaigns under the new rules.

Ashton’s main rival, NDP candidate Tarik Sayeed, spent $75,100 on his campaign.

The provincial election earlier this year allowed for spending rules so loose that the New York Times dubbed B.C. as “The Wild West of Canadian political cash.”

The BC Liberals spent a total of $13,596,359 on their reelection bid, $7,908,697 for the NDP.

There is a five-year transition period before the rules are fully implanted

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