Democracy Watch calls on Elections BC to request a prosecution within 30 days of everyone who illegally concealed political donations, and to issue a public report within 60 days on all likely concealed donations

Special prosecutor needed for all cases to prevent political interference – Saturday’s Globe and Mail article shows Elections B.C. has been negligent in enforcing law

B.C. political parties should also democratize province’s political finance system to match Quebec’s $100 annual donation limit and other world-leading measures

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, March 6, 2017

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch called on the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Elections B.C. to end its negligent enforcement of the provincial political donation rules by, within 30 days, investigating and recommending prosecution of everyone revealed by Saturday’s Globe and Mail article to be involved in schemes where lobbyists made donations to the B.C. Liberals and then were reimbursed by their clients.

Democracy Watch also called for a special prosecutor to be appointed to handle all the cases to help prevent political interference in the prosecutions by the B.C. Liberal Cabinet. Under B.C.’s provincial Elections Act section 252, the CEO must approve all prosecutions and, especially because so few such cases have been in the courts in the past, the policy of the CEO for these cases should be to request prosecution of all of the individuals involved and let the courts decide whether they have violated the law.

“The fact that the media is discovering violations of political donation rules that Elections B.C. hasn’t even looked for shows that Elections B.C. has been negligent in enforcing the rules,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Elections B.C. has to start enforcing the law properly by requesting prosecution within 30 days of everyone who has been involved in illegal donation concealed schemes in the past year, and by immediately auditing donation lists to find all illegally concealed donations since the last election and issuing a report within 60 days.”

“It would not only be negligent for Elections B.C. to let anyone who has violated the rules off the hook with just a warning, instead of requesting that they be prosecuted, it will also encourage more violations in the future,” said Conacher. “A special prosecutor is needed for all these cases to prevent interference by the B.C. Liberal Cabinet.”

Democracy Watch called on the CEO to issue a special public report within 60 days on all large individual donations that were likely funneled from businesses or unions through their executives (or their family members), employees or lobbyists since the last election. This report can easily be done, and should have been done every year in the past by Elections B.C., by comparing the donation database with the lobbyists registry database, and with the business registry database, and with the list of executives of B.C.’s unions.

Elections B.C. should then follow up on that report by investigating and requesting prosecution of everyone who has been involved in an illegally concealed donation scheme in the past four years.

Democracy Watch and the PIPE UP Network are currently challenging in court the B.C. Liberal Cabinet’s approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline because of the appearance of conflict of interest caused by more than $550,000 in donations to the B.C. Liberals from pipeline related companies in the past few years.

Democracy Watch is also challenging in court the B.C. Conflict of Interest Commissioner’s ruling that no conflicts of interest were caused by B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s high-priced, exclusive fundraising events.

Democracy Watch and the nation-wide Money in Politics Coalition also called on the B.C. government to make the same world-leading changes to the province’s political donation system (including at the municipal level) as Quebec made in 2013 when it lowered its individual donation limit to $100 annually to each party, with an additional $100 allowed to be donated to an independent candidate, and required donations to be verified by Elections Quebec before being transferred to parties and candidates.

Democracy Watch detailed in a January 31st news release the key changes needed stop cash for access or the unethical influence of big money donations. More than 6,000 B.C. voters have called for these changes to B.C.’s provincial donation rules through Democracy Watch’s Change.org petition.

“The only way to stop the unethical and undemocratic influence of big money in B.C. politics is to stop big money donations,” said Conacher. “Any political party that refuses to support key changes to the B.C. political finance system changes is essentially admitting they are up for sale and that they approve of the unethical and undemocratic best-government-money-can-buy approach to politics.”

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
info@democracywatch.ca

Democracy Watch’s Government Ethics Campaign and Money in Politics Campaign