B.C. Premier John Horgan takes questions outside his legislature office, April 25, 2018. (Black Press)

Municipal election loophole will be fixed, premier says

Union, corporate donations still allowed for slate party ‘operational’ needs

A loophole that allows municipal election organizations to collect corporate and union donations will be fixed before province-wide elections next fall, B.C. Premier John Horgan says.

Elections BC confirmed earlier this month that municipal parties can accept donations outside the new campaign rules, as long as they are for “operational” uses outside of the election period, which is now every four years.

The B.C. NDP government passed legislation last fall to make municipal election donations match their new provincial rules, restricted to a maximum of $1,200 a year from individual B.C. residents only. The $1,200 cap for individuals also applies to electoral slates and their endorsed candidates, putting declared slates in larger communities at a disadvantage compared to independent candidates.

RELATED: NDP moves to limit local election money

Horgan told reporters Wednesday that the government is prioritizing its legislation, which is piling up since the NDP government’s first budget this spring. Changing the municipal election rules to eliminate the loophole for electoral slates is a priority for this spring, he said.

“This was an issue that was raised by the Chief Electoral Officer,” Horgan said. “It didn’t come up in a review of the bill, so we’re taking a look at that.”

B.C. Liberal MLA Todd Stone presented a private member’s bill earlier in the week to address the issue, after Vancouver’s Non-Partisan Association indicated it would be using corporate and union donations to maintain its organization between elections.

B.C. Liberal MLA Peter Milobar presented another private member’s bill Wednesday, aimed at restricting provincial parties from appointing “corporate or union entities” from being given guaranteed positions on political party executives. The bill appears aimed at the NDP’s practice of designated union positions on the party executive.

“If passed, this bill will ensure entities that are banned from donating money to political parties will not have influence through guaranteed positions of power,” Milobar said.

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