B.C. voters, and media, should ask every candidate to disclose their donors before election day (and don’t vote for anyone who refuses)

Millions in donations could be in candidate accounts – not required to be disclosed until 90 days after election

Also before election day, special prosecutor must prosecute all proven violators, and Elections BC must release report on all likely illegally funnelled donations since 2013 (like Elections Quebec’s and Elections Alberta’s reports)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch alerted B.C. voters that election candidates could be hiding millions of dollars of unethical, undemocratic big money donations, and urged them to ask every candidate to disclose their donors before election day, and not to vote for any candidate that refuses.

Under B.C.’s very flawed election law, candidates could have started taking donations right after the 2013 election, and are not required to disclose those donations and donors until 90 days after election day.

“Millions in donations may be hidden from voters, and voters have a right to know who bankrolled election candidates before election day because donors will influence what any politician does after the election,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Voters should ask every candidate to disclose their donors before election day, and so should the media, and no one should vote for any candidate who refuses to disclose their donors.”

Democracy Watch also called on David Butcher, the special prosecutor appointed to investigate the cases where lobbyists made illegal donations and were reimbursed by their clients, to prosecute before election day all who can be proven to have violated the donations law (all identified in the Globe and Mail’s March 10th article and any others for which clear evidence exists that they have violated the law).

While Elections B.C. has referred the cases to the RCMP for investigation, under B.C.’s provincial Elections Act section 252, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Elections B.C. must approve all prosecutions of violations. Because so few such cases have been in the courts in the past, the policy of the CEO must be to request prosecution of all of the individuals involved and let the courts decide whether they violated the law.

Democracy Watch also called on Elections B.C. to issue a special public report before election day on all large individual donations that were likely funnelled from businesses or unions through their executives (or their family members), employees or lobbyists to parties and candidates since the 2013 election. This report can easily be done 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 Quebec did a similar audit in 2011 and found $12.8 million in likely illegally funnelled donations from businesses through their executives and employees since 2006. When Elections Alberta did an audit in 2012 it found dozens of illegal donations.

“The special prosecutor must prosecute before election day everyone they can clearly prove made an illegal donation so voters know who violated the law before they vote,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Elections B.C. must also finally enforce the law effectively by auditing donation lists to find all likely illegally funneled donations since the 2013 election, and issuing a public report before election day so voters can know the full extent of the illegal donations scheme before they vote.”

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 $630,000 in donations to the B.C. Liberals from pipeline related companies in the past few years. There will be a court hearing in the case on May 3, 2017.

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. political parties to make the same world-leading changes to the province’s political donation system (including at the municipal level) as Quebec made in 2013. Democracy Watch detailed in a March 13th news release how inadequate the B.C. Liberals proposed changes are, and what key changes are needed to stop cash for access and the unethical influence of big money donations in B.C. politics. More than 6,000 B.C. voters have called for these changes 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 and loans,” said Conacher.

- 30 -

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