Reform absent in Throne Speech

This editorial appeared in the February 22, 2017 edition of the Interior News. You can read or download the original here.

The Christy Clark government’s Throne Speech began the sitting of the legislature last week. A Throne Speech is the government’s opportunity to lay out their vision for the coming year and to give an indication of what they believe is important.

And so the glaring omission of any mention of reform to increase confidence in our political system speaks loudly about a BC Liberal government that isn’t concerned about growing public cynicism that results in outcomes like ever-decreasing voter turnout, especially among younger voters.

In response to this omission, we presented a number of Private Member Bills last week to signal some of the methods we would employ through the legislature to improve public confidence if we form government after the May 9 provincial election. Bill 307, the Banning of Publicly Funded Campaign Advertisements Act, addresses the situation where the BC Liberals have almost doubled the government advertising budget in this election year, resulting in $15 million being spent on ads telling you how great the government is doing. Under our Bill, all government advertising must be reviewed and approved by the Auditor General based on clearly defined criteria preventing advertising that promotes the partisan interests of the governing party or creates a negative impression of government critics.

The Bill requires government advertising to present information factually and objectively and also bans all government advertising four months before the fixed election date.

Bill M201, the Get Big Money Out of Politics Act, addresses fundraising rules that allow Premier Clark’s taxpayer supported salary to be topped up by $50,000 a year in political contributions, either direct donations or raised at BC Liberal events.

It’s a situation in BC that is illegal elsewhere and was featured in a New York Times exposé with a ‘wild west’ quote.

Our Bill prohibits corporate and union donations to political parties, restricts campaign donations to individuals who reside in British Columbia and specifically bans members of the executive council, including the Premier, from accepting salaries and stipends or other outside sources of income.

We also introduced legislation on election campaign spending, democratic reforms, transparency and accountability. Many of these Bills have been introduced by us before, some multiple times. We have not received support from BC Liberal MLAs on any of them. You have to conclude political reform is not important to them. 

- Doug Donaldson is the MLA for Stikine and the Official Opposition spokesperson for Mines.