Clark says favouritism to donors ‘should be illegal’

Let’s play a game. How many examples can you find?

Guess who said this on CBC radio last weekend?

“Here’s the problem that happens, that people should be concerned about. It’s when private donors give money to political parties, and then governments make decisions in favour of those private donors because they’ve given them money. That’s what all the rules are there to protect us against. That’s what Canadians don’t want, and it should be illegal. And it is illegal, in British Columbia. We’ve got a really robust system to protect against that.”

That’s right, Premier Christy Clark. And in case anyone listening still wasn’t clear, she repeated:

“The protection that people need and that they have in B.C. is a really robust system that protects against anybody giving money, and that being connected to a decision that government has made in their favour. That’s the problem we have to protect against. Whatever anybody tells me or donates to me or my party, it cannot be connected to decisions we make on behalf of the people in B.C. And it’s not.”

Let’s unpack this a bit.

She’s right. British Columbians should be concerned about this problem. Because whether you’re talking about the Vancouver housing crisis or trophy hunting for grizzly bears, major political donors are making major amounts of money thanks to Clark’s policy decisions.

The Premier’s defence is that unless you have a recording of her promising preferential treatment in exchange for cash, it could all be a coincidence.

But as Andrew Coyne wrote last week in the National Post, “This is not a criminal trial. It is not up to the public to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that their leaders are corrupt. It is up to the premier, as the holder of a public trust, to conduct herself in such a way as to prevent any such suspicion arising.”

Sadly, B.C. politicians aren’t trying very hard.

To demonstrate, let’s play a game:

1) Take any industry and an influential stakeholder within it.

You could pick logging, luxury real estate, car dealerships, mining, pipelines, road paving, liquor — the sky’s the limit.

For this example we will draw on Clark’s darling, the Liquefied Fracked Gas industry (or “LNG” as she affectionately calls it).

Let’s look at Malaysian state-owned gas company Petronas, which has applied to build a gas export terminal on top of Lelu Island’s Flora Bank, a crucial piece of salmon habitat near Prince Rupert.

2) Go to the Elections BC donations database.

This contains all the recorded donations over $250 made to politicians in B.C. since 2005. (It does not include donations made outside of election years at the municipal level, because those are secret.)

You can click here to search the provincial donor database.

3) Search, Tally and Timeline.

This can get tricky, because companies donate under a lot of different names.

Calgary-based fracking company Progress Exploration Partnership gave $80,500 to the BC Liberals.

In 2012, Progress was acquired by Malaysia’s Petronas, after which it donated another $18,000 as “Progress Energy Resources Corp”.

Then after striking a deal with Chinese state-owned oil company Sinopec, the group began donating to B.C. political parties under the project name Pacific Northwest LNG.

If I search ‘Pacific Northwest LNG’, I can see they donated $18,200 to the BC Liberal Party (and $350 to the BC NDP) over a two-year period.

The timeline of the Pacific Northwest LNG donations reveals some interesting comparisons with government decisions. Here are some highlights:

timeline_for_PNW_LNG_donations

If you haven’t been counting, I’ll do the math for you. The total political “investment” made into Pacific Northwest’s LNG terminal on Lelu Island is $117,050. The returns, if the project is approved, will be astronomical.

Maybe these corporate donations (and the annual cut Premier Clark receives from party coffers) are not connected to Premier Clark’s decisions. Maybe it’s all just a big crazy coincidence.

Or maybe those baby fish just don’t have deep enough pockets. After all, with foreign investors moving in, their real estate market just got a lot more competitive.

8 Responses to “Clark says favouritism to donors ‘should be illegal’”

  1. Mary Rose says:

    Yeah, sure. You’re not influenced by money. Not at all. You’re special. You’re the anomalous example of nobility we’ve all been hoping for.

    ‘VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLAR’ means something. YOU WORK FOR US, Christy. And even if 90% of us say were not saying ‘it is clearly unethical to accept ‘donations’, as a public servant, from sources which cannot mark an X in a BC/Canadian ballot box’, you should have come to that conclusion allllllll by yourself.

  2. Mary Rose says:

    In short: The burden of proof is not with us. And her obvious disingenuous rhetoric is see through, but not at all transparent. Much like the rest of them.

  3. Eric MacLachlan says:

    Very well said Lisa. Sadly I don’t think Clark has to try hard to hold the Public Trust because the BC NDP are such a disaster. Short of Clark publicly executing someone, most people who don’t are swing voters will continue to vote for the BC LIberals because no matter what Clark and the Liberals do, the NDP still seems like a worse option.

    • Richelle Dawn says:

      The NDP only “seem like a worse option” to the low information voters – people who get their “news” from Global TV – and refuse to see the house of cards built by this corrupt, payola taking, social service decimating American style neocon

      • Eric MacLachlan says:

        I think it’s a big mistake to call the people who don’t vote the way you want them to “Low-Information.” I certainly am able to see everything you listed about the BC Liberals and I still think the NDP are scarier. That campaign Adrian Dix ran last election was one of the worst run campaigns I have ever seen. Horgan has done nothing since that election to make the NDP seem all that credible as an alternative. They will promise the moon and the stars but never have any clue how they will pay for it. That scares people far more than the corruption of the Liberals.

        The Liberals have been the same since Gordon Campbell. You know what you’re getting with them. They’re sleazy, they look after their rich buddies and corporations. They will do underhanded stuff that will short-term get them into trouble, they will probably refuse to apologize or give one that nobody believes and then everyone moves on with their lives. The NDP are a wildcard. No one has any idea what they’re getting with the NDP but what we do know seems scary. Dance with the Devil you know as they say.

    • Betty-Anne Juba says:

      That is very true Eric

  4. Jacques says:

    High time to put the brakes on Bc Politic,What about the Finance Minister not doing Emails,What’s up with that,Hey,i hope there’s are reporters out there with enough gust to get to the bottom of these people ripping off the public to serve their own interests, Congratulation you Crooks !

  5. Salal says:

    To return Christy’s gang to power is to empower them to ever more corruption. Wouldn’t we be guilty of aiding and abetting?

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