B.C. Greens leader Andrew Weaver and Premier John Horgan announce legislation banning corporate and union donations at the B.C. legislature, Sept. 18, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. VIEWS: Politicians loot public treasury

John Horgan’s sudden reversal puts parties on welfare

It is astonishing how badly Premier John Horgan mishandled his sudden announcement that after a decade of crusading against “big money” in B.C. politics, he was reversing his often-stated position and moving to siphon millions from the provincial treasury to prop up established political parties.

For someone who can’t stop bragging about leading a new government for “the people” instead of special interests, Horgan’s decision to lavishly reward his own special interest, and to do it while totally misreading the public mood, is difficult to understand. He’s been premier for two whole months and he’s already lost touch.

It wasn’t just a couple of interviews in the lead-up to the spring election, where he either denied any intention of replacing corporate and union donations with “big money” from taxpayers, or professed to have “no opinion” because an independent panel would take that decision from politicians’ hands.

It was his constant reference to legislation the NDP tabled six times in opposition, which made no mention of a party subsidy starting at $2.50 per vote. That evolving NDP legislation came to include an arms-length panel to remove the obvious conflict of interest that occurs when politicians set their own pay and perks.

That’s all discarded now, replaced by a brazen looting of the public purse, as predicted by B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark during the election campaign. Horgan mocked that as “alternative facts” at the time.

Lost in the main looting is another provision for taxpayers to reimburse political parties for half of their election-year expenses, on top of the per-vote subsidy and the generous tax credits for those who may still wish to donate voluntarily to political parties.

(When this welfare-for-parties scheme was introduced at the federal level by Jean Chretien, one of the effects was to prop up the separatist Bloc Quebecois for years as their voluntary cash dried up.)

In the case of the NDP, your taxes replace the compulsory union dues of United Steelworkers members, whose leaders directly paid top NDP campaign staff in the election this spring to the tune of more than $600,000. Unions win, you lose.

All told, it comes to about $27 million in tax money handed to the NDP, Green Party and the B.C. Liberals over the next four years, in what Horgan falsely claimed is a temporary measure.

Green leader Andrew Weaver allows that his party would benefit by millions in unearned subsidies, adding that the big parties would be in “free fall” without an unearned substitute for corporate and union donations. This claim is questionable at best.

The government’s breakdown of B.C. campaign financing shows individual donations totalling $6.8 million in 2016, almost as much as the $7.1 million from corporations. Unions came in at $1.7 million, a total that has been declining as smaller individual donations have climbed.

Indeed, Horgan has boasted for years about the NDP’s success with individual donors. Former party president Moe Sihota lamented a few years ago that much of it comes from the wills of dead people, but no matter. Now “crowdfunding” is all the rage, as demonstrated so ably by Justin Trudeau and others at the federal level.

Stephen Harper did away with welfare for political parties, and the Conservatives have continued to kick the federal Liberals’ butts on individual fundraising, even last year as opposition with an interim leader.

This is a key issue for the B.C. Liberal leadership contest. Penticton MLA Dan Ashton was first to state he won’t accept direct taxpayer money for his election campaign. Maybe he should have run.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Just Posted

West Kootenay couple escapes Spain – safe, sound, and in self-isolation

BC couple Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

Hospital’s Chief of Staff asks residents for help containing COVID-19

Invermere & District Hospital Chief of Staff says COVID-19 cases here, caution and care needed

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

MP Morrison touts non-partisan effort to provide relief amid COVID-19 pandemic

The federal government has announced a slew of economic initiatives for those impacted by the pandemic

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Cruise ships, one with COVID-19 on board, carry Canadians covertly through Panama Canal

Zaandam, Rotterdam pass through canal under cover of darkness in face of local protests

LifeLabs reducing public hours as it assists with COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus tests not done at B.C. patient centres, referrals only

24,000 Canadian Forces members ready for COVID-19 response: Defence Minister

No direct requests made by premiers yet, national defence minister says

IN DEPTH: How B.C. emptied its hospitals to prepare for COVID-19

Thousands of beds have been freed up, but patients and seniors have had to sacrifice

Kootenay Meadows Farm experiencing shortage of glass milk bottles

Some grocery stores have stopped accepting bottle returns amid COVID-19 concerns

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Most Read