British Columbia ‘s Politics Under Big Cloud

Welcome to BC .

It is a wonderful place with its immense diversity and lower mainland , Vancouver Island climate. Many people from across Canada are drawn  to the souther part because of the climate .

Few are drawn here because of the politics , I suspect.

It is a different place. The left and the right are both strong and adherents of both live precariously among one another. If anything the right overall has been dragged to the left rather than the other way around.

And the politics is a messy affair . That is not to say it isn’t messy in other places it is to say that I have lived here for over twenty years , and being somewhat of a political animal , I have observed this place up close and personal.

Canada , unlike our more open American neighbours, practices politics in a more ‘closed ‘ manner. The ‘wink and the nod’  pervades our political maneuverings as we dispense goodies across a particular jurisdiction. Our tendering system in many jurisdictions gets compromised, our justice system has such long lines of cases waiting to be heard that even the Supreme Court has had to step into the fray.

We frequently chastise the Americans for what we see as their awful system , all the while ignoring the warts and failures of our own. From incessant irregularities in the Quebec political system , to gross incompetence in Newfoundland , an Ontario Government recklessly sinking our largest  Province into to deep debt through stupid energy policies,  with Federal misdeeds almost too many and serious to mention; from the sponsorship scandal in Federal politics years back, the sickening Corporate bailout of Bombardier ( even after the company failed to pay back earlier ‘loans’) , the ever bungling of Military procurement of planes , to the present PM ,  lauding the Chinese Governance system, having public funds pay for partisan speeches , irresponsibly promising deficits ,  attempting to reduce democracy in our  Parliament,  to frolicking on a billionaire friend’s helicopter at Christmas , then sticking us with a $125,000 bill.

The US media , of course, plays a big role here. But we ‘choose ‘ to hear it and watch it . For example, the top TV shows in Canada are all American Shows .  Our public broadcaster , CBC, only has one show that breaks into the top ten most  viewed TV shows : Hockey Night in Canada . None of CBC’s vaunted , self congratulatory shows ever make it in the top ten —like our home grown stuff , or even the news. The private CTV News beats CBC News regularly. (Source Numeris).

Now back to BC . Its latest political misdemeanours (forgetting the Ferry Fisacos , GST promises,  murky BC Rail decisions, leaky condo construction, bingo gate , broken LNG promises, violating teacher contractural agreements leading to several adverse  court decisions ,  flawed Site C  Hydro Project ) concerns the financing of political parties .

This present expose would not have arisen if not for the Globe and Mail  newspaper and other local voices. It seems the Liberal Party , the Governing party , has been accepting money illegally. Third parties have contributed money and recovered that  money from their employers . This is illegal in BC.

Now the Liberal Party , caught in the crosshairs( the RCMP are investigating , Elections BC were too busy and handed the file to them ;  one wonders what would have happened if they were not too busy) are out mea culpa like,  disclosing that at least $92,000 was accepted illegally , or that’s the implication , and that this money is being returned. Apparently the NDP, the other main  party ,  were caught in this as well,  returning some money, $10,000 , for the same reason .

I guess the Liberals  are trying to get ahead of the RCMP investigation. One should not suggest that by doing this  it might soften the conclusions of the RCMP report, should we? I mean, The is is Canada , this is beautiful BC,  not the USA!

You know that Canadian political phenomenon already mentioned : ‘the  wink and the nod?’

I know, I know , we must wait the RCMP inquiry. But given that the ‘Parties ‘ have as much as acknowledged guilt by returning money , it is not a stretch ——-is it?

Now we can only hope ( we can still do this) that if the RCMP report finds illegal behavior that ‘the procescutorial service ‘ will apply the full extent of the law.

Fingers crossed.

Any bets?

Here’s the news story from Vancouver Sun:

 

‘The B.C. Liberal party is returning nearly $93,000 in political donations after identifying 43 indirect contributions that are illegal under the B.C. Elections Act.

In a statement issued late Friday afternoon, the B.C. Liberal party said these were cases where individuals made donations with personal credit cards on behalf of their organizations, and were reimbursed by those organizations, which constitutes a prohibited donation.

“These individuals and organizations have indicated that they were unaware that reimbursements were not permitted under the act,” said the statement released by B.C. Liberal Party spokesman Emile Scheffel.

The party said another 30 individuals had come forward to say that “clerical” errors resulted in contributions being reported inaccurately. Individuals were listed as the contributor when the donation had come from their employer.

The Liberals did not provide a dollar figure for the “clerical” errors.
The revelation by the B.C. Liberals comes as an investigation is underway by the RCMP into the issue, sparked by a Globe and Mail story about indirect political donations to parties in the name of lobbyists who were later reimbursed, which contravenes the elections act.

A Postmedia story published Friday highlighted the issue of individuals being reported as donors when their employers had made the contribution through a corporate credit card.

The amount being returned — $92,874.36 — is a small fraction of the approximately $65 million the B.C. Liberals have raised since 2011. That includes about $2 million raised this year and $12 million in 2016, a greater per-capita amount than raised in any other province.

Dermod Travis, executive director of the political watchdog group IntegrityBC, said he believes if the B.C. Liberals keep digging there will be more indirect donations and other errors to be found.

“Quite a few,” he said.

The B.C. Liberals said their review is ongoing.

NDP deputy campaign director Glen Sanford mocked the B.C. Liberals for putting out the illegal donation figures late on a Friday afternoon to try and bury the story.

“I do think their statement leaves a lot of questions,” he said. “Number one, who were the donors? Number two, they didn’t really address the major issue which is what about the cases where the Liberals received donations where the true donor was deliberately hidden by lobbyists?”

Sanford said the Liberals are admitting they don’t intend to return all of the improper donations, by labelled 30 of them as “clerical errors.”

The NDP have returned several donations totalling about $10,000 after a review back to 2013.

In response to the NDP’s criticism on the clerical errors, Scheffel said in an email they will be reporting the clerical errors to Elections B.C.

In Postmedia’s story from Friday, B.C. Liberal candidate Kim Chan Logan asked her party to correct about $18,000 donations listed from her that she said was money spent on corporate credit card from Telus, her employer. She did so only after she was contacted by Postmedia.

It is unclear how many individuals have been listed as donors where the company should be listed.

Michelle Romero, vice-president of corporate at Pretium Resources, made a donation of $5,000 in 2017.

However, she said Friday the money came from a corporate credit card and should have been listed as a donation from the company.

She said the money was used for a table at a Liberal fundraising event. “I guess we’ll just have to be careful to make sure it’s clear the designation is for company,” said Romero.

Listing corporate donations under individual names reduces transparency as it under-represents the amount given by companies, one of several political-contribution issues under scrutiny in the run-up to the May 9 provincial election.

The NDP and Greens have called for an end to corporate and union donations, while the B.C. Liberals, under increasing pressure, have said they would strike a panel after the election.

ghoekstra@postmedia.com

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “British Columbia ‘s Politics Under Big Cloud

  1. Interesting that liberal President is Sharon White, a lawyer, and Electionsbc hold meetings with all provincial parties who have more that 6? Candidates registered in the previous election. These are meetings to inform the reps from each party of the changes to the election act , the information is detailed and very explicit ! I’ve been at two of these meetings.

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