A look back at our look forward – Democracy

Each year at Dogwood Initiative we undergo a rigorous and esoteric ritual of predicting the future. Last year we made our predictions public for the first time, forecasting upcoming trends for democracy, energy, First Nations, forests and communities.

This is the forth bulletin in a five part series looking at our predictions concerning the challenges and opportunities we expected to present themselves in BC in 2006.

Democracy:

Campaign finance reform

“Stephen Harper’s commitment to improving government accountability is by far the best outcome of the Conservative’s federal victory.” – Dogwood Initiative, January 2006

As predicted Stephen Harper’s Federal Accountability Act went some way into cleaning up the influence of big money in Canadian politics. Our prediction that this would shine a light on the inadequacy of BC’s campaign finance regulations unfortunately was premature.

Big money still plays a huge role in provincial politics. In February 2006 complained to Elections BC about the BC Liberals failure to accurately disclose donations for 2001 and 2005. Our complaint documented that the BC Liberal Party failed to properly disclose 478 donations totalling $510,140.49 in its 2001 report. Elections BC confirmed our findings. In a May 16, 2006 letter to us they stated,
“[We] concur that the [BC Liberal] party did not consistently report correct amounts for combined contributions… to the party and its candidates in the 2001 General Election … It was a systemic error that resulted in some contributions to some candidates not being included in the party’s combined report… “

Elections BC chose not to censure the BC Liberals; so much for encouraging fair reporting.

Expect the profile of money in politics to increase in the coming year when Dogwood Initiative puts its political contribution database online allowing concerned citizens to easily search who is donating to whom, and how much, for themselves.

Electoral reform

As we predicted electoral reform did get more attention in 2006. New citizen initiatives considering proportional representation are being studied in Ontario while Senate reform and the rising tide of the federal green party, including recent support for including them in federal leaders debate, have broadened support for change.

As the clock ticks toward the next BC election and new riding boundaries and STV garner some attention expect more discussion of electoral alternatives.

Read how we did on our predictions on energy, First Nations and forests. Stay tuned for a look at our 2006 predictions on communities.

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