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HomeMiscellanyThat’s what she said: Duchess of Dunbar said no to campaign finance reform during the election

That’s what she said: Duchess of Dunbar said no to campaign finance reform during the election


Bob Mackin

Facing the end of 16 years of power after losing their majority on May 9, Christy Clark’s BC Liberals are getting ready for a Hail Mary session in the Legislature. 

Nearly 60% of British Columbians voted for parties other than the Liberals in the May 9 election, which left the Liberals with 43 seats, one shy of a majority in the 87-seat house. The NDP (41) and Greens (3) have enough seats to become the new government, with John Horgan as premier. 

A week after the June 22 throne speech, the NDP and Greens are hoping to defeat the Liberals on a confidence motion. 

On June 2, the Liberals stopped publishing their unaudited donation lists on a weekly basis. Despite the party calling it real time, and some media outlets parroting those words, the party never disclosed its donations in real time. The Liberals now say the throne speech will include a plan to ban corporate and union donations. 

This, after more than a year of headlines about Liberal cash for access and pay to play.

This, after the Liberals raised $13.1 million in 2016 and another $8.5 million-plus by the end of May 2017.  

The devil, of course, will be in the details. Simply ending corporate and union donations is not enough to regulate what has become a legalized form of bribery. 

Quebec banned corporate and union donations, but major donors found loopholes. The Charbonneau commission into construction fraud and corruption found SNC-Lavalin reimbursed its executives for making $1 million in personal donations to the Quebec Liberals and Parti Quebecois under their names and the names of their relatives. 

In B.C., the Clark Liberals stubbornly resisted six NDP private members’ bills to ban corporate and union donations. Before the election, Clark said a re-elected Liberal government would appoint an independent commission to make non-binding recommendations. She mentioned no timeline, but said one recommendation would be rejected outright: taxpayer subsidies.

Yet, taxpayers already help parties indirectly, because donations are eligible for tax credits. 

After the April 26 leaders’ debate, Clark was emphatic. “Politicians should not be making the rules,” she said. See her entire answer in the video below. 

Now she has changed her tune and wants to make the rules.

Do you believe her?