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Fundraising legislation not enough to drop BC's Wild West reputation: Democracy Watch

Last Updated Nov 8, 2017 at 10:33 pm PDT

(Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

'Wild West' term first surfaced in a New York Times article earlier this year

Legislation was tabled in September to cap political donations at $1,200

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Is the era of Wild West political fundraising over in BC or has it just gone underground? A non-profit group is taking some issue with legislation being brought in by the BC NDP.

The legislation tabled in September would cap personal political donations to $1,200 a year as an effort to stop big money from corporations and unions going to BC’s main parties.

Duff Conacher, co-founded of Democracy Watch, says the cap won’t stop big money, it will just hide it.

“What happens is you see the executives and their spouses and their children, of corporations and unions, start to give the maximum amount of money and they might all have different last names, it makes it very difficult to track down where that money is actually coming from.

Conacher believes there is a way to fight big money donations and change BC’s Wild West reputation.

“The only way to stop big money is to lower the donation limit to an amount that an average voter can afford and then no one can legally use money as a means of having more influence than another voter.”

He points to Quebec, where personal political donations are capped at around $100.

Democracy Watch has been fighting what it sees as conflicts of interest in political donations.

It recently dropped a BC Supreme Court challenge of the Trans Mountain pipeline project after indications from the judge that there wouldn’t be a favorable outcome.

The original action alleged that the decision to sanction the $6.8 billion project was tainted by political donations made by its proponents to former premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberal party.

Conacher says the liberal loss in the last election is being seen as a small win but the group believes the current NDP government has an equal chance to be caught-up in conflicts of interest with union donations.