Enough is enough – it is time to ban big money from politics

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John Horgan Leader of the B.C. New Democrats
John Horgan Leader of the B.C. New Democrats
John Horgan
Leader of the B.C. New Democrats

Victoria: Over the last week we’ve seen a renewed interest in the staggering amount of corporate money that Christy Clark is bringing in to finance her next election campaign. The situation in B.C. is so extraordinary it was featured in the New York Times.

We’ve always known that Christy Clark counts on big money from her rich friends to run her election campaigns. But when you take a closer look at the numbers the story gets even more troubling.

Just 1.5 per cent of B.C. Liberal donors contributed more than half of the more than $12 million that Christy Clark raised last year.

That’s just 185 donors giving over $6 million – that’s $37,000 each.

Unfortunately we don’t have to look far to see how many benefits those $37,000 donations have raked in. Millionaires gave big to Christy Clark and she gave those same millionaires a billion dollars in tax breaks over the last four years.

That’s a billion dollars that was taken out of the pockets of ordinary people struggling to get by and given to those who need it the least. While you paid higher hydro bills, bigger ICBC rates and the endlessly increasing Medical Service Plan tax, Christy Clark’s big money donors got a break – a break you paid for.

The only people getting ahead under Christy Clark are the wealthy and well-connected because they are the only ones who can afford $37,000 to buy a government that works for them.

A small number of millionaires have the premier of British Columbia in their pocket and that has to end.

We’ve seen changes over the last few years to the way politics is run across the country. Corporate and union donations have been eliminated federally. In neighboring Alberta – their first-ever NDP government banned corporate and union donations as their very first act.

Yet here in B.C. all we’ve seen from Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals is denials, dodging, tinkering, and gimmicks which distract from the real issue. And that issue is that the premier is working for big-money donors, and not working for ordinary people. And that issue is that the premier should be working for ordinary people not big money donors.

Christy Clark’s conduct – taking a $50,000 second salary from donors something that is almost unheard of in real, democratic countries – is an embarrassment.

Christy Clark’s refusal to take action, her mockery of British Columbians who are concerned that her government isn’t working for them, is wrong.

The B.C. Liberal deputy premier said it’s “laughable” for people to criticize selling government to the highest bidder.

But there is nothing funny about raking in millions from developers while watching housing prices soar out of reach of ordinary people.

There is nothing funny about ordinary people taking a billion-dollar hit while millionaire donors get a billion-dollar tax break.

I’m not laughing. And neither are British Columbians.

New Democrats have introduced legislation to ban corporate and union donations five times. And five times that legislation has been shot down by the B.C. Liberal government.

I believe that government should be working for ordinary people, not for big money donors.

Christy Clark has the power do the right thing. That’s why I’m introducing legislation to ban big money again this spring. There is plenty of time to make this the law before the next election.

All that is missing is a yes from Christy Clark.