Part One. Part two will be up soon. I went to the B.C. Municipal Election Campaign Finance Reform – Implications for Democracy Panel Discussion + Q & A tonight, Monday, April 14, 2014 at the Vancouver Public Library Downtown. Despite just coming from eye doc checkup with blurry eyes from eyedrops. Started meeting with shades, gradually returned to reg glasses.
The panel was organized by IntegrityBC and CityHallWatch. Here is their notice about the meeting with links to relevant background material on civic election finance in “Rules, we don’t need no stinking rules” BC.
Here are my notes on the meeting. If you were there, let me know what you thought about it the comments section at the bottom. Picture of the panel by van greens
At @INTEGRITYBC press conf re elxn finance reform @VanGreens @COPEVancouver here not @VisionVancouver @NPAVancouver pic.twitter.com/o453QF2dc1 — Vancouver Greens (@VanGreens) April 14, 2014 Panelists from right to left:
Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC and has worked on Federal Greens Party campaign in the past, see his company Pira Communications page Strangely this fact is not mentioned on his Integrity BC bio page. via @svenbiggs
COPE – Tim Louis, External Chair
Moderator was NSV’s Richard Nantel
Green Party Vancouver City Councillor Adriane Carr
Green Party of Vancouver Executive Director– Jacqueline Miller
To get you in the mood, here’s one of my #25klunch tweets
— Pete Quily (@pqpolitics) March 24, 2014
Integrity BC’s Dermod Travis’s intro speech
The largest stakeholder in the issue of 3 vs 4 year terms had no say on the matter. I.e. BC citizens.
Slightly over 30% of eligible voters voted in Vancouver 2011 civic election. We had 419,000 eligible voters during 2011.
Money spent by political parties during 2008 Vancouver city election was $4.5 million.
Money spent by political parties during 2011 Vancouver city election $5.3 million.
Me: That underestimates the real number because it ignores dark money.
Dark money is what Karl Rove and the far right wing Koch brothers use.
It’s untraceable money that business or individuals or groups give to politicians and political parties that political parties do not legally have to declare to voters or media.
Ethically they should. Especially if they claim to be in favour of Open Government, since there is NOTHING more closed government than #darkmoney.
But again, they’re politicians.
BC is so structurally corrupt that the BCKleptocrats i.e. BC Liberals (who are only liberal with crony capitalism) refuse to demand political parties and politicians declare political contributions in non election years.
So there can be a huge amount of dark money given out you Vancouverites or BCers don’t know about.
— Pete Quily (@pqpolitics) March 18, 2014
see Frances Bula’s response estimating how much dark money the two real estate speculator parties Vision Vancouver & NPA Vancouver raised for the last election, quite shocking to my comment on her blog about dark money
I’ve never seen a article in a BC MSM article or video mentioning dark money in BC Civic politics. Reporter print off the official amounts and don’t even mention that there IS dark money in Vancouver & likely some other BC cities or even estimates of how much.
and some other interesting comments there too. I.e.,
Current campaign finance rules allow individuals and corporations, including nameless numbered corporations, to donate unlimited amounts of money to campaigns, with no requirement to report any donations made in non-election years.
If you were a developer seeking to influence city policy, would you make the majority of your donations in election years?
I think not.
If you were a Vancouver political party, would you do your most active fundraising during election years?
I think not.
And if you were an incumbent government official looking to keep this flow of funds to your campaign anonymous and unrestricted, wouldn’t you support an amendment to BC’s municipal election rules that increases term lengths from the current 3 years to 4 years, so you’d have even more years of unreported, untraceable, unlimited donations?
Of course you would.
Back to Dermod. Here’s some points he mentioned that are also on this page of his website,
so I’m copying some of the quotes he mentioned in his talk
Ontario caps campaign spending for mayor, council or school board trustee candidates at 85 cents per elector.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi – who ran his campaign on a self-imposed limit of 65 cents per eligible voter. And only spent 57 cents per voter.
In Mississauga, Ontario – which is 1,000 eligible voters shy of Vancouver – the 2010 spending limit for the post of mayor was $319,664.
In Mississauga, there is a cap of $750 on a donation to any one candidate and the donor must reside in Ontario.
In Alberta, a donor can give no more than $5,000 to a candidate annually and must reside in Alberta – unlike the rules in B.C. that allow citizens of other provinces and countries to donate to a local campaign.
The BC Government claimed that it was only Vancouver that has had problems with campaign finance laws. Not true.
Victoria has 65,500 registered voters. The mayor spent $77,000 to get reelected.
Prince George has 52,709 registered voters. The new mayor spent $81,200 to get elected.
In Regina, Saskatchewan the mayor’s spending limit is $62,235. Below both Victoria & Prince George. Regina has 157,269 registered voters. Two times as many as Victoria. Three times as many as Prince George.
Election finance is NOT just a Vancouver problem.
Montreal after The Charbonneau Commission (a public inquiry into potential corruption in the management of public construction contracts that led to the resignation of one mayor who was arrested by the police and charged with gangsterism. And the resignation of the mayor who replaced him too.)
had serious caps on political campaign spending and expenses. So the politicians had to talk to the voters. They had more debates than any other time in Montreal.
If you bring in strong spending limits in campaigns, you force politicians to talk to voters more.
In Quebec, you can only give $300 to a civic election candidate but you can only donate to someone who you live in their riding.
Me I.e. If BC followed Quebec sensible honest government law, Texas tar companies couldn’t donate to pro tar pipeline parties. I don’t know if they did, but because the #bccronies party whose major funder are real estate developers & big oil & gas, allows dark money between elections, neither do you.
Here’s DigitalMonkBlog’s video of Dermod’s speech
Next Green Party councillor Adrian Carr.
She spent $11,000 on her campaign. she has a motion on campaign finance limits, seconded by George Affleck of the NPA. The NPA said to her earlier that they’d second her motions even if they wouldn’t vote for them for the sake of debate.
Me: Good on the NPA. Good move for democracy. Also good strategic move to have discussion of items vision may not want to hear.
Carr talked about a single individual who gave a donation of almost a million dollars, likely Developer Rob MacDonald to the NPA.
Me: I’d bet he’d gets his phone calls answered a lot quicker than you or me with that kind of cash.
Carr said many donations in the several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What that means is that there isn’t a level playing field when it comes to elections and the potential to win. with myself excepted, and that’s unusual.
Generally speaking that much money going into advertisements, going into the overall spending to raise the profile of parties and names does end up determining the outcome of elections.
That is simply not democratic.
Money should not buy elections.
There is an undermining of democracy in my mind when citizens come to speak at city council when say that they believe that the minds of politicians are made up, predetermined, and will go the way of a developers wishes without incorporating the wishes of citizens.
This lack of faith, lack of trust that city councillors have open minds.
Me: I believe that too. And many others do as well, check out the #vanpoli hashtag on twitter.
It’s kind of similar to the enbridge hearings. 99%+ of people who spoke at the hearings, spoke against the enbridge pipeline. But the fed cons already decided & had sham a hearings. The decision was already made. Donors families first.
I did a tweet on the topic earlier.
— Pete Quily (@pqpolitics) April 3, 2014
Here’s a link to Carr’s motion on campaign finance she’ll intro April 15th, inspired by North Vancouver city councils’s motion
Carr’s motion, seconded by Councilor Affleck, calls on Council to communicate with the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, “urgently calling upon her to amend Bill 20 (Local Elections Campaign Financing Act) by including amendments or the intent to amend the Vancouver Charter” to incorporate a set of rules as recommended by a 2010 all-party subcommittee of Vancouver City Council, including limits on the amount and source of donations, limits on election campaign spending, a ban on corporate and union donations and strong rules governing disclosure of donations and spending.
Should the provincial government fail to heed Council’s request, the motion calls for the creation of an all-party subcommittee of Council to be established to develop – in time for the next civic elections on November 15, 2014 – a set of campaign finance guidelines based on the 2010 recommendations that it would urge all civic parties and candidates to adopt voluntarily, in the absence of legal constraints.
Moderator notes that Vision Vancouver, NPA Vancouver, The BCliberals and the BCNDP were all invited to this forum and all did not attend. They did not even mention the BC Conservatives, I assume they weren’t even on their radar. Like the many media outlets who ignored the BC Cons leadership election saturday.
Carr said the Van Greens do accept corporate, union and non profit donations. But not from property developers or from fossil fuel companies, including their senior managers and board directors. Last point is important cough SNC Lavelin cough.
Here’s DigitalMonkBlog’s video of Carr’s speech
Part Two will be up soon. It will cover media question by @bobmackin of the Vancouver Courier, Tyee and CKNW and @yolandecole of the Georgia Straight and answer and my two questions to the panel. I’m a curious guy, as an adult ADHD coach, I get paid to ask questions for a living and doing so boosts dopamaine, self medication for us ADDers:) and panelists response including the always quotable Tim Louis of COPE Vancouver plus Glen Chernen leader of the CedarParty and Green Party of Vancouver Executive Director– Jacqueline Miller.
Comments, non libellous ones:) are welcome.