New government ends era of ‘big money’ in politics

The Government of British Columbia has introduced legislation to put an end to big money in politics and put people back at the heart of government decision-making.

“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.

“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.”

The Election Amendment Act, 2017, will:

End corporate and union donations
Limit individual contributions to $1,200 a year, the second-lowest limit in Canada
Ban out-of-province donations
Cap contributions to third-party election advertisers
Require ongoing public reporting of all fundraisers attended by major party leaders, cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries, including those held in private residences
Reduce campaign spending limits for candidates and political parties by about 25%
Set new fines and penalties for contraventions of election financing and advertising laws

“These unprecedented changes will not only end the ‘wild west’ of campaign fundraising, they are an important step in modernizing our democracy,” Eby said.

The bill contains several transitional provisions, including restrictions on the use of contributions received before the legislation comes into force. Political contributions previously collected that are not allowed under the new rules – including prior donations from unions and corporations or funds collected from a person in excess of $1,200 – cannot be used in future elections.

The Election Amendment Act, 2017, also introduces a transitional annual allowance for political parties over a set term of five years. The allowance diminishes in value over time and is intended to help political parties transition to the new campaign finance rules. A special committee of the legislature will review the allowance to determine if it should be continued. If no action is taken, the allowance will expire in 2022.

Election Amendment Act, 2017, backgrounder: https://news.gov.bc.ca/15424

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