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Letters  

BC political donations

One of the least talked about issues that still skirts the periphery of the debates in the BC election is the ongoing issue of campaign finance and the sheer volume and frequency of bribes masked as donations to political parties.  Can we anticipate that the Liberals has allowed regulations around mining and resource extraction to be less strict due to Teck Resources being their largest contributor, giving over two million dollars to the party in the last ten years?  I can tell you that if Don Lindsay came to knock on Christy Clark's door, she would answer with or without an appointment.  Would she do the same for you?

The United Steelworkers have been found to now be paying the salaries of some top campaign workers on the NDP side of things.  While not a strict donation, should members of the union who do not agree with the NDP choose not to have their membership dues paying for a political party that they do not support?

The corrosive influence of money in the BC political sphere can be seen on a magnified scale just south of our border in the last presidential election.  Mega donors supply vast funds to both parties and this has lead to legislation passed by the federal government that tend to be in favour of elites rather than the vast populace of the United States, as illustrated by a study from Princeton and Northwestern University released last year.  After studying 1800 pieces of legislation passed from 1981 to 2002, they found that "economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence." (https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf)

This is even before the rulings of Citizens United and the McCutchen decision in the last few years, which has only lead to turning this issue to an even bigger issue with legislators on the federal level now spending more time raising money than performing their job of actually doing the people's work.  A great article in The Hill (http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/277462-60-minutes-fundraising-demands-turning-lawmakers-into) in 2016 showed that the average congressman/woman has to raise $18,000 per day, which is funneled into the coffers of the party machine.  This is what we have to now prevent our politics from turning into.

This is not a left vs right issue or a liberal vs conservative argument, both sides want to have their government responsive to their wants and needs in the province.

I would then call on all major parties to affirm their plan to introduce legislation in the first two years of their next government to abolish corporate and union donations, limit the amount of individual donations and fund raising events for candidates and parties.  Eliminate estate contributions, and seek to bring in publicly funded elections to stem the tide of corruption in our province and make it an example for other provinces and jurisdictions in the country.

At each town hall that you attend, ask your representative to answer this question, as it will determine their stance on so many other issues.  From pipelines, to ICBC rates, environmental conservation, how you buy a home or a car, what hospital gets upgrades first and so on, this will be the overriding factor in any race.

As for those who would not choose not support this, we will know they are willing to be bribed and simply want to use their office to enrich themselves, and should therefore not be elected to public office in our province, regardless of their political stripe.



Sean Mackinlay



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