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Government of British Columbia reforming province’s electoral financing system

BC Premier Christy Clark speaks at the 2016 BC Natural Resource Forum. Photo Credit: BC Natural Resource Forum
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VICTORIA, B.C. – The Government of B.C. announced today that they will introduce legislation that will make the electoral financing system among the most transparent in Canada.

“Amendments to the Election Act tabled today will introduce real-time reporting of contributions and include new rules for how fundraising events and political contributions are reported so that the public can see who is donating to any political party.”

Key points that the government is introducing are:

  • Lowering the threshold for reporting political contributions from a single contributor to $100 (currently it is $250)
  • Reporting contributions to major political parties, candidates and constituency associations within 14 days of their deposit, including the nature of the contribution (whether it is a donation, a ticketed event or a sponsorship)
  • Fundraising functions must be posted on the political party’s website within five days of the event
  • A penalty of $10,000 for failing to publish fundraising information as required

The chief electoral officer will also be able to publish disclosure reports and other financing reports online.

“We intend to strengthen transparency, which is a core principle of our system,” said Premier Christy Clark. “Equally important is that taxpayers should not have to subsidize political parties – and those are the principles that will guide us as we take new steps to make sure our electoral financing system evolves reflecting the values of British Columbians into the future.”

Premier Christy Clark has also announced that they will be adding an Independent Panel. They will be in charge of regularly reviewing B.C.’s electoral financing system and making recommendations for reform to the legislature.

The Province says that the panel will be comparable to existing bodies such as the Electoral Boundaries Commission. The following elements would be included:

  • Selection to the expert panel must be unanimously approved by the legislature
  • The independent panel will make recommendations every eight years after reviewing submissions from political parties, MLAs and the public as well as reviewing reforms and procedures in other jurisdictions
  • Current proposed legislation in B.C. as well as other reforms proposed by the federal government would be included in the review

The current financing system in B.C. has been in place since 1996.

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