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Special prosecutor needed for illegal donation cases – before election day all proven violators must be prosecuted, and Elections BC must release report on all likely illegally funnelled donations since 2013

Elections Quebec audit found $12.8 million in likely illegally funneled donations, and Elections Alberta 2010-2011 audit found dozens of illegal donations

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch called for a special prosecutor to be appointed to help prevent political interference in the cases where lobbyists made donations and were reimbursed by their clients. All violators identified in the Globe and Mail’s March 10th article, and any others who can be proven to have violated the donations law, must be prosecuted before election day.

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 since the 2013 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. The audit should examine donations to parties and candidates.

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.

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.

“A special prosecutor must be appointed to help prevent political interference in these cases, and before election day Elections B.C. and the prosecutor must prosecute everyone they can clearly prove made an illegal donation,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Elections B.C. must 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.”

“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. “It would be also negligent for Elections B.C. to fail to audit donations back to 2013 to determine how many illegally funnelled donations have been made to parties and candidates.”

Elections B.C. should then follow up on that report by investigating and requesting a 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. 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 when it lowered its individual donation limit to $100 annually, and required donations to be verified by Elections Quebec before being transferred to parties and candidates.

Democracy Watch detailed in a March 13th news release how inadequate the B.C. Liberals proposed changes are, and what key changes are needed 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 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.

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Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
[email protected]

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