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Simons: Campaign finance reform, finally

Simons: Campaign finance reform, finally

simons chCampaign finance reform is finally coming to B.C. The New Democratic Party has focused on the issue for years, submitting proposed legislation several times while we were in opposition. It was at the top of the list of our promised legislative priorities, and now that we have formed the government, real change is on the way.

Big money has tainted our politics for too long. It always carries the potential and certainly the appearance, frankly, of buying political influence. Up to now, anyone or any organization, from anywhere in the world, could write cheques to our political parties. And there have been no limits on contributions, earning B.C. the reputation as “the Wild West of Canadian political financing.”

The primary feature of the bill means corporations, organizations and unions will no longer be able to contribute to provincial political parties. Individual contributors will be limited to donations of up to $1,200 per year, starting in January 2018. And, those donors will have to be residents of British Columbia, who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

The bill does propose using public funds to help finance campaigns while political parties transition to the new funding method. But that public financing ends after the next election.

You can see details of the legislation at https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2017PREM0085-001593

Here in our riding, I’ve had good meetings with Rotary in Pender Harbour, and with the Pender Harbour Advisory Council, which I attended with shíshálh Nation Chief Warren Paull, whose message was well-received.

In Sechelt, I visited the Wood Expo, where local craftspeople display some of their world-class work. I also got to see local filmmaker Sarama’s inspirational and beautiful new feature, “This Living Salish Sea.” And I was happy to introduce one-of-a-kind poet Shane Koyczan, performing at the Sunshine Coast Hospice Society fundraiser.

Then it was off to Vancouver in the final week of September for the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. It’s an important opportunity for our riding’s local officials to brainstorm with other community leaders. I attended meetings with the Powell River Regional District, the City of Powell River, the Sunshine Coast Regional District, the Town of Gibsons and the District of Sechelt.

We met with the Ministers of Health, Education, Environment, Transportation, Agriculture, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. We discussed everything from ferries, agricultural land, water, roads needing repair, derelict vessels, expansion of parks, seniors care, and emergency preparedness. I hope to report on some progress in the coming months.

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