A fighting chance with limits on big money in politics

johnny-automatic-bag-of-moneyLast week I blogged about the very positive, upbeat COPE nomination meeting I recently attended. This week let’s take a look at the bigger picture — the likely impact of new legislation that will govern campaign financing in this fall’s municipal elections.

David Eby, B.C.’s Attorney General, brought in legislation last September shortly after Vancouver’s by-election that I predict will have a dramatic and very positive impact on municipal elections across the province going forward.

Historically, developers have been purchasing election outcomes. As an example, in Vancouver’s last municipal election, both Vision Vancouver and the NPA collected millions of dollars in donations from developers to finance their campaigns. Many would argue this had a very corrosive impact on decision-making at 12th and Cambie after the election.

This new legislation will do away with donations from developers and unions as well as limit individual contributions to $1,200 a year (the second-lowest limit in Canada). Parties, such as COPE, which have been at an electoral disadvantage in the past when it comes to campaign financing, can now operate on a more level playing field.

The impact of this new legislation will be province-wide. For instance, Surrey First — Surrey’s equivalent of Vision Vancouver — will also no longer be able to bankroll their election with such big blank cheques from developers.

Because of these changes, I’m very optimistic about the outcome at the ballot box this coming October in Vancouver. At long last COPE may finally bounce back. And hopefully we will once again have city councillors ready, willing and able to speak up for the average citizen and not be beholden to developers.

To learn more about big money in politics, check out Geoff Dembicki’s excellent series of articles in The Tyee.

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