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Donation accountability unlikely to dominate BC election, pollster

BC Premier Christy Clark (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Despite ongoing attention towards provincial political donation policies, the issue is unlikely to make or break the upcoming May 9 election according to a BC pollster.

Mario Canseco with Insights West says while fundraising accountability is on the radar for many voters, housing affordability, jobs, the economy and the environment usually rank much higher.

“Now I think we see accountability (as a political issue) at roughly between five and 10 per cent (of British Columbians), so it’s not necessarily the reason why you’re going to be having a situation that forces a changes in government,” Canseco says, adding the last time accountability became a major political issue was when former premier Gordon Campbell brought in the HST.

Premier Christy Clark announced Monday the government would create an independent donation review panel to investigate political fundraising. The move follows the RCMP announcement on Friday that officers are taking over an Election’s BC investigation into allegation of illegal campaign donations.

Canseco says a survey Insights West conducted in April revealed voters of all political stripes were disappointed with a perception of corrupt political donations among the BC Liberal Party, and the government’s recent panel announcement is likely a result of those negative opinions among the general public.

Whether accountability becomes an issue in this election depends on how much opposition parties push the issue, according to Canseco.

“I think it’s ultimately in the hands of the opposition to try to talk a little bit more about this as the campaign progresses and maybe try to plant the seed of doubt into people who voted for the BC Liberals in the past and are dissatisfied,” Canseco says, adding parties must be willing to provide policy alternatives like the NDP’s plan to ban corporate and union donations. “It’s not enough to talk to your own base because that’s only going to enable you to finish second or third.”