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Bans or limits on civic-election campaign donations not such a big issue: minister

March 26th, 2010 · 4 Comments

The province’s task force on civic electoral reform is slowly generating more interest these days, with the realization that maybe something really is going to change.

I did my brief summary on the issues in the Globe here, but there’s a lot more material around and information to be had. The big items are 1. whether to ban corporate and union donations or put limits on all donations 2. how to make election contributions and spending more transparent and accessible to the public (i.e. online and available BEFORE the election, not three months after) 3. who to get to investigate complaints after elections, since it’s a cumbersome procedure that currently involves having city staff investigate their own bosses (something they say frankly makes them uncomfortable) or calling in the police, which is heavy-handed, cumbersome and usually useless 4. whether there should be a corporate vote (Minister Bill Bennett already says he’s heard a huge negative reaction on that one) 5. whether the restrictions on who can run should be changed, something smaller towns are pushing for (volunteer firefighters currently aren’t allowed to run for office) and 6. whether elections should be every four years instead of every three.

The minister in charge of the task force with the Union of B.C. Municipalities, Bill Bennett, has been very open about what his opinions are on various things or what he’s been hearing. That’s ruffled the feathers of people who worry he’s decided what he’s going to do in advance or that he’s only giving his version of what he thinks people want.

Bennett told me yesterday he has now decided to make all submissions to the task force available online (something that wasn’t being done before), although without names because of privacy consideration, and they should be up next week. As for him having undue influence on the process, the task force is being co-chaired by the UBCM, which said loud and clear a couple of weeks ago that they thought bringing back the corporate tax was a hugely bad idea. Bennett said he’s heard that message.

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