Selina Robinson corporate and union donations
Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing - Photo via gov.bc.ca

The government of British Columbia has made another move to tame its reputation as the “Wild West” of political donations with the introduction of municipal campaign finance reforms.

The legislation would ban corporate and union donations, put limits on individual contributions and ban out-of-province donations at the local level.

Contributions for the election campaign of a candidate or elector organization will be limited to $1,200 per donor per year. One donor’s total contributions to the election campaign for an elector organization and all of its endorsed candidates cannot exceed this amount. These changes follow the approach of the proposed provincial Election Amendment Act.

Amendments to Take Effect in 2018

The amendments will apply to all local elections starting with the 2018 general local elections and any byelections thereafter, including campaigns for councillors, mayors, electoral area directors and school trustees.

Once passed, the changes will be retroactive to Oct. 31, 2017, the day after the first reading of the legislation. To allow candidates to transition to the new campaign financing framework, contributions allowed under the former rules and received before Oct. 31, 2017, may be used for the 2018 general local elections.

The proposed amendments to the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act follow consultations with key stakeholders such as Elections BC and UBCM, which represents B.C.’s 189 local governments and the Islands Trust.

Oak Bay Mayor Supportive

Oak Bay Mayor corporate and union donations
Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen Photo via news.gov.bc.ca

“With this legislation, people can be confident that their local and provincial governments will be working for all voters, not just those able to write the largest cheques,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “These amendments will make sure that democracy at the local level works for everyone, not just a select few.”

“Elected officials have the privilege and responsibility of representing their citizens, and this legislation helps ensure that campaigning for public office is conducted fairly,” said Nils Jensen, mayor of Oak Bay. “The District of Oak Bay has strongly advocated for local elections campaign financing reform. We appreciate Minister Robinson bringing this forward in such a timely fashion. It’s clearly in the best interest of candidates and the public—and it’s the right thing to do.”

 

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