Corporations' influence over politics rising

Corporate influence over BC’s political process will once again play a prominent role in the upcoming election process.

Yesterday, Elections BC released reports on 2004 donations to political parties. The report shows the BC Liberal Party raised approximately $5 million from corporate donors (an increase over the $3.7 million from 2003). These contribution amounts to almost 60% of the $8.6 million they raised in 2005 and give them a hefty $3.6 million dollar surplus heading into 2005 an election year. Since 1996 the Liberal has raised $28.7 million from corporate/business donors.

In contrast, the New Democrats Party (NDP) raised 3.7 million dollars last year. The vast majority coming from individuals. Contrary to persistent criticisms only about $423 thousand came from unions in 2004 and since 1996 labour has donated $2.5 million to the NDP. The NDP will head into 2005 with just $886-thousand leftover from the previous year.

The $5 million difference in total donations and the $2.7 million difference in surplus will help the Liberal’s going into the election. It will allow them to purchase more ads and hire more staff

The difference between the Liberals and NDP fundraising efforts can almost entirely be accounted for by the Liberal’s success with corporate donors. This success is not surprising given their corporate-friendly policies in relation to environmental deregulation, privatization, subsidies for resources development, reduced royalty rates, reduced employment standards, tax breaks, and lax enforcement. Corporations’ know donations are a good investment that pays off in increased access, sympathetic administration and lenient policies and enforcement.

Given the rise in corporate donations, perhaps the need for legislation banning economic actors like corporations and unions from donating money to political parties is more important than ever. Fortunately, rumour has it that both the Green Party and the NDP will include campaign finance reform in their platforms leading into the May election.

A ban on corporate and union donations is just one of many steps necessary to reinvigorate British Columbian democracy. Other aspects of campaign finance reform are included in Conservation Voters of BC’s excellent report Democracy For Sale? Dogwood Initiative urges everyone to sign their petition to get Big Money out of politics.

Other changes necessary to reinvigorate democracy is electoral reform. British Columbia have a unique chance to change their electoral system through the referendum on the Single Transferable Vote (STV) on May 17th.

While it is clear that British Columbia want electoral reform, Dogwood Initiative has yet to determine whether the STV proposal is appropriate for BC. We will be holding an online town hall to help educate our supporters on the pro’s and con’s of STV in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on our homepage if you want to join in.

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