MLA Report: Is it time to take big money out of politics?

In B.C., your voice is being drowned out by unbridled political donations by corporations and the very wealthy, writes MLA Norm Macdonald

Over the last number of weeks there has been a great deal of discussion about the impact massive political donations have on government. I feel the consequences of unrestricted corporate donations reach beyond a specific government, actually undermining our democracy.

The democratic system is based on the concept every citizen has a voice and every citizen has a vote. This means your influence on government should be equal to your neighbours.

In British Columbia, your voice is being drowned out by unbridled political donations by corporations and the very wealthy. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

There are many, many examples in British Columbia under the Christy Clark government where we can draw a direct parallel between political donations and a free ride from government.

One of the most prominent examples of political donations driving government action in recent years has a very local connection.

Prior to the last election, the owner of the Mount Polley Mine held a million dollar fundraiser in Calgary for the BC Liberal candidate here in Columbia River–Revelstoke. Always a very generous donor to the BC Liberal party, this fundraiser was just a small portion of what he has raised or donated over the term of this government.

Coverage of the Mt. Polley Mine disaster in 2014 absolutely filled the airwaves and newspapers as revelation after revelation was made about the neglect and recklessness that caused this environmental catastrophe. At that time, it was unimaginable that even this BC Liberal government could ignore the wrongdoing that occurred at this mine.

Surely there would be consequences for the company that had so severely damaged the ecosystem and put so many local residents at risk. Instead there was nothing.

No charges were laid.

Would any normal person look at this situation without coming to the conclusion the donations made to the BC Liberal party influenced government’s handling of the disaster?

This is just one of the reasons five times I supported a private members’ bill that would eliminate corporate and union donations. And five times the BC Liberal members of the Legislature rejected it.

In the upcoming provincial election, it will be your turn to decide. Do we continue with a ruling party that encourages massive corporate donations that corrode our very democracy, or is it time to take big money out of politics?

Every four years you are asked to set the standard for your government. This May, it will be up to you.

Norm Macdonald is the MLA for Columbia River–Revelstoke. He can be reached at 1-866-870-4188 and norm.macdonald.mla@leg.bc.ca.

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