Money & politics: a must read

Knock me over with a feather.  Gordon Hoekstra in the Vancouver Sun has a must read story today.

If you want to know the how and why of BC Liberal politics read the Sun’s story on Corporate donations.  Then you will know, not quite all, but almost everything.

It’s a sad thing but the truth of the matter is that the story shows what we all kind of know – government under the BC Liberals is pretty much a “pay for play” system.

Like most banana republics if you don’t cough up some dough you don’t get some action.

Corporations gave the BC Liberals, according to Hoekstra, $46 million since 2005.  That’s about 60% of all Liberal donations.

The top 20 gave $10 million or almost 25% of the total.

Why?  “The companies are circumspect about that,” Hoekstra says, adding that they say they support the BC Liberals business oriented policies.

And of course that’s the problem with all this.  Nobody believes them.

The average person – even if they vote for the Liberals – can’t tell whether the money follows the decision or the decisions follow the  money.  The average person, even a believer, thinks that, at best, its a bit of both.

At worst, of course, money determines everything.

And the evidence is that they are right.  The Quebec corruption inquiry unveils new evidence each and every day about how and why money rules.

Here in BC, a BC Rail inquiry will likely unveil similar stories.  As Alex Tsakumis has reported, wiretaps gathered during the police investigation reveal BC Liberal officials seeking and getting government action in response to business donations.

Now I believe it is important to nail the bastards.  I believe – like the criminal code believes –  it is wrong to pay a government to do your bidding.

But more importantly it is time to break the connection in the voters’ minds between money and government.  That’s what lies behind declining electoral involvement.

Why vote?  Why vote when your vote really does little to determine who gets what?  Follow the money.  And why vote when the money tells you what is going to happen?

The Sun story is one important piece of the puzzle.  But it leads to the inevitable question: What are we to do about this?

The only real answer is to take the money out of politics.  All of it.

This entry was posted in BC Liberals, BC Politics, BC Rail, Christy Clark. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Money & politics: a must read

  1. G. Barry Stewart says:

    “The only real answer is to take the money out of politics. All of it.”

    ALL of it? How do you run a campaign, then?

    I’m all for campaigns run by people power — and I am part of that in this election — but the people need signs to put up and pamphlets to hand out. Who pays for that?

    If you meant all corporate money, with a cap on private BC resident-voters’ donations (of say: $1,000) I’m fine with that.

    There are slippery ways around it, though. For example, a corporation could give $1,000 ‘bonuses’ at election time, with the expectation that they will slide through to the candidate. Or, an employer could supply paid workers to a candidate, to wave signs or hand out pamphlets.

    Change the rules and the gaming continues — but yes, we should make it tougher. Dix says he’s headed that way.

  2. spartikus says:

    “ALL of it? How do you run a campaign, then?”

    Some countries directly fund the political process. Party subsidies, mandatory free air time, etc.

  3. workforfun says:

    How about the government allocating the same amoount of money to each party (e.g. BC Liberals, BC NDP, BC Conservatives, BC Green Party) which should give each party equal financing. Totally rule out donations and make it a criminal offence to do so. Give each party the same free air time on TV and Radio.
    Let the people of this province elect MLA’s on a level playing field as one can get, without undue influence from monied interests.


  4. tf says:

    That’s the way Spartikus –
    Take the profit out of running elections and we’ll have fairer elections.

    And as GB Stewart above – we’ve already seen this corruption at the federal level in Ontario. It’s against the elections act and would need to remain so; the question is “where’s the enforcement?”

    Thanks Ian!

  5. Pingback: Money & politics: a must read | On First Nation Issues, Jobs, Events, And Environmental Issues On The West Coast And World Events.

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