The political corruption scandal in Quebec makes me wonder why B.C.’s own too intimate relationship between politicians and the corporations, unions and lobbyists that fund them hasn’t created a similar scandal here. Something about the nature of the relationship between the corporatized media, corporate and union donors, the dependency that all political parties have on accessing “big money,” and the general reticence of the public to admit their government might be corrupt seems to allow everyone to turn a blind eye to the clear evidence that big money has a stranglehold on B.C. politics. The claim that companies, unions and lobbyists donate to political parties without expecting a direct benefit as a result makes absolutely no sense.
CEOs and their boards have one obligation: return value to their shareholders. How can anyone claim that CEOs and their boards would cut the kind of cheques they do to political parties if they didn’t believe their shareholders were going to get some value in return? The same holds true for unions. Union leaders have one responsibility: serve the interests of their members. Therefore, the major loans and donations they give to the political party of their choice must also, explicitly, be intended to serve the needs of their members. In order to protect the public interest, money should not be allowed to influence policy, nor should we permit even the perception that it does.
This week I tabled a Private Members Bill in the legislature to fundamentally change this and to force political parties to reconnect with individual voters. I’ve proposed that only registered B.C. voters can donate to political parties and candidates to a maximum of $1,000 per year. A simple solution to eliminate the possibility that political favours can be bought with big money in B.C.
More importantly, my proposal reflects the most basic and fundamental principle of democracy: one person, one vote. That’s why only registered voters should be allowed to donate; it’s the best way to honour this basic principle.
Bob Simpson is the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.