By Roy L Hales
A new Insights West poll found that found that 86% of British Columbians would support a ban on corporate and union donations before the next election. Only 32% of the respondents believe the government represents their interests. The top three perceived influences were: corporations (by 90% of respondents), lobbyists (60%) and foreign investors (58%). The Poll calls on BC’s Government to put citizens first.
Poll Calls On BC’s Government To Put Citizens First
Only 10% of the respondents agreed with the statement, “Corporations and unions should be allowed to spend as much money as they want to help politicians win elections.”
“It is clear that there are a lot of people who believe it is clear that they haven’t been listened to. It is very rare to get 86% of British Columbians to agree on something. What’s fascinating to me, is that it is not coming from one party of the other,” said Mario Canseco, Vice President of Public Affairs at Insights West.1
Support for a ban crosses party lines. When they stated their preferences in the last election, 81% of the respondents who voted Liberal and 91% of the NDP’s supporters agree there should be a ban.
“By refusing to wean their parties off big money, Christy Clark and John Horgan are making the situation worse. How can citizens trust either the Liberals or the NDP to make decisions in the public interest when they rely on cash from construction unions, Alberta oil companies or foreign billionaires?” said Kai Nagata, Communications Director at the Dogwood Initiative (which commissioned the poll), in a press release.
NDP Has Been Calling For A Ban For 5 Years
Initially, Nagata’s remark did not seem fair to the NDP.
“We’ve been calling for the end of corporate and union donations for the last five years,” said New Democratic Spokesperson Trish Webb.2
She directed me to look at the NDP’s official website, where it shows that on April 6 NDP Leader John Horgan introduced “the Campaign Finance Reform Act today, a bill which would ban corporate and union donations as well as limit the amount of personal donations to a political party.” The Liberal party voted this motion down.
A Great Start
When I pointed this out to Kai Nagata, he responded:3
“It is a great start. We’re glad that both MLA Vicki Huntington and the NDP have introduced legislation to ban big money in politics, but they are not in a position to actually implement those changes unless they have a majority of MLAs that would agree in the legislature.
“What we have to go on is their track record and in the case of the NDP what we saw in 2013 is that they gladly took money from all over the country, outside of the province and from corporation venues. They raised more money than the BC Liberals and then they still lost.
“So we take their intention at face value, but it is only worth as much as their ability to win the next election.
“In the meantime we are calling on politicians of all stripes to make a stand and walk the walk. If they believe in running an election campaign on the support of real British Columbians, put their money where their mouth is.”
“it is disappointing to see the NDP defend their fund raising practises because this has serious implications for their policy positions on projects like the Petronas LNG facility (on Lelu Island) at the mouth of the Skeena River. If the building trades, which are a major donor to the NDP, can call John Horgan and and belliger him into apologizing their members over an NDP position, then we can’t really say that the NDP as a party is independent of its’ donors either.”
Does The Liberal Government Owe British Columbians A Duty Of Care?
As a rule, I find the government of British Columbia is very good when it comes to answering to questions. They usually need more than a day, but do email a response. There are excerpts from dozens of government emails on the website.
The exception was a question whose nature was very close to those being asked in this poll.
On at least three separate occasions last year, I asked the provincial government if they had a duty of care to look after the interests of the people of British Columbia.
Searching through my emails for the words “duty of care” this morning, I found two in regard to the Woodfibre LNG project.
On June 12, 2015, I asked both the Ministry of Environment and BC Oil & Gas Commission about the rights of people living within the potential danger zones if there is a major accident with LNG:
- Should the people who live, and work, within these hazard zones have the right to choose whether the projects move forward?
- Which takes precedence as the government’s primary duty: developing business opportunities? Or caring for citizens?
- Does the provincial government have a duty of care for its’ citizens?
I once again asked the Ministry of Environment about its’ duty of care again on June 26, 2015.
I believe I asked this question on at least one other occasion.
The provincial government has yet to respond.
B.C. Residents Want To See Change Before The Next Election
I asked again this morning, but they have not yet answered.
However Trish Webb of the NDP returned my phone call within minutes.
“I think B.C. residents want to see change before the next election,” said Canseco.
Vancouver City council will vote May 3 on a motion to call for a referendum on political financing, as part of the next provincial election ballot in 2017.
Top Photo Credit: NDP Leader John Horgan from BC NDP courtesy Flickr (CC By SA, 2.0 License)