Meanwhile, on the money trail

The Campbell administration continues to claim it's the most open and accountable government in the country. But, after six years in office, that claim has become a farce - and a hypocritical one at that. After all, the provincial Liberals are, arguably, the least open and accountable political party in British Columbia. For example, the party refuses to discuss who's on their payroll, classifying the information as "strategic." So if the Liberals don't want to let the sun shine in on their operations, perhaps it's time we demanded legislation to force those blinds open?

Right now, parties in this province aren't required to disclose their annual expenses, except in the most general way. We spent $154,001 on media advertising, $151,509 on research and polling and so on. But in Ontario, parties must list who actually supplied those services if the expenditure was over $1,000.

That means, if a similar requirement had existed in British Columbia during the Campbell administration's first term, the Liberals might have found it more difficult to allegedly award two $10,000 dirty media manipulation contracts to then ministerial assistant David Basi without British Columbians finding out. Allegations relating to those contracts have been made but not proven during court proceedings connected to the Basi-Virk trial.

4 Comments

Disagree there, since political parties are not technically a public institution (although there are arguments against it, since the political parties are funded technically by tax dollars)

They are close, but what is paid for by the party and what is paid for by those in Victoria working supposedly off hours, off the public clock, has become very blurred. This is what happened with the Basi/Virk activity, but why $10,000 for something anyone with 5 years in a political party
at the riding executive level can do?

However, the party is required to submit annual audited statements, of which the membership can view, but the 'public version' is probably not much more than an income statement (simply income vs. expenditures.

As for payroll, there would be one Executive Director, one secretary, one computer guy, and one office person. They probably have a few field organizers, but wonder why they would be needed
or are their being there justified in some way.

Usually between elections there aren't many people in a political party office, but once the election gets closer, there's all kinds of people who end up on the payroll.

Whether they actually do anything useful is another topic.

Correct me if I am wrong, but the election and political party financing legislation that mandates the present level of disclosure, but no more, would have been put in place during Premier Mike Harcourt's term in office. Perhaps Publiceye should ask Harcourt about this issue.

And while you're at it, ask Harcourt, and definitely ask Carole James too, if they would favour bringing BC's political financing rules into line with the new Federal rules:

- contributions from individual Canadian citizens or permanent residents only (no business or labour money);
- contributions by any one individual to any one party limited to $1,100 per year;
- contributions by any one individual to all the local riding associations of a given party limited to a second $1,100 per year;
- contributions to leadership candidates in any one party limited to a further $1,100 per year;
- and last, but most importantly of all, that local riding associations have full tax-receipting powers, be able to raise funds locally without going through their party's head office, and be able to keep 100% of what they raise.

It's this last question that needs to be put to Harcourt, and especially Carole James, in a very clear way, leaving no room for anything other that a clear and unequivocal Yes or No response. I don't know about the Liberals, but at present all BC NDP fundraising is passed through the party's provincial office, which then subjects it to a scheme delightfully labelled "revenue sharing". What revenue sharing means is that the party's head office bureaucracy keeps half or more of every dollar that local members are able to raise.

The BC elections act presently allows riding associations to become 'registered constituency associations' by filing a form. Then they can write their own tax receipts.

The trouble is that the law requires the political party being represente by the riding association to sign off on the application. The BC Liberals deregistered all their associations a number of years ago, and refuse to approve applications today.

I assume the BC NDP is the same way.

So its not really a fault with the law... the problem is more that BC Lib "riding associtions" dont exist according to Elections BC-they're fictitious branches of the party itself.

Not only are they lacking transparency & accountability as a party, but there should be audits of several ministries? BC taxpayers should be asking these people where all their money has gone? Ministries like Children & Families, where more cuts are happening, right under people's noses, child care, mental health, what else? It's all happening very quietly.

How about the Employment & Income Assistance ministry. The Vancouver Courier did an excellent story about how MEIA has spent $625,000 on a welfare fraud team that has only recovered $50,000 since it's been operating. Penny wise & pound foolish & that's how it is all over the place in this government.

It's obscene the Liberals will probably vote themselves a nice raise & benefits while around the province, their constituents have had child care cut, homelessness, mental illness & addiction are soaring with no services, school districts cut sorely needed services for kids, and special needs kids, adults & families are drowning. I hope the media reports strong & clear which MLA's vote to butter their own bread so constituents know who to get rid of next time around.

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