Should a ban on corporate donations trickle down to local governments in Kamloops? - InfoNews

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Should a ban on corporate donations trickle down to local governments in Kamloops?

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July 13, 2017 - 9:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - Now that the big three political parties in B.C. are in agreement, will the move to ban corporate and union donations make its way to local politics? Should it?

In the last provincial election, the Greens and NDPs went hard with promises to ban union and corporate donations, while the Liberals were on the other side of the argument. The Liberals changed their tune when Premier Christy Clark gave a throne speech, adopting the idea.

"I think it was made very clear that changes were going to need to happen. We had a piece of legislation in the throne speech, but it didn't make it to a first reading which is very rare," former Kamloops Mayor and current MLA Peter Milobar says. 

"It would change things, no doubt about it," he says. "In Kamloops' case it would change the mayor's race. But with personal limits you'd still be able to run a proper campaign."

Coun. Denis Walsh thinks municipal campaigns should be funded only by donations from taxpayers.

"We have to get the big players out of politics," Walsh says. "Money plays a big factor in any election, with whoever the candidate is."

He says banning corporate donations would encourage the democratic process.

"We don't allow businesses to vote, so we shouldn't allow them to have any undue influence over candidates," Walsh says.

Coun. Ken Christian says whether the change comes or not, the most important thing is the transparency and full disclosure of campaign funding.

"Anyone can find some boogeyman if you keep looking. But I think the check and balance is declaring who you got the money from, when you got it, and all the disclosure of donations. It's very well controlled," he says.

Running a campaign can be expensive and Christian says banning corporate and union money would affect the way candidates fundraise and possibly dissuade a young person wanting to run for council, because they might not be able to afford it.

"You have to make sure that being able to run for local office is open to as wide a group of people as possible," Christian says.

In the 2014 civic election, Peter Milobar took in $28,763 in corporate donations when running for mayor, and Coun. Pat Wallace topped the list of counsellors with $5,750 from corporations.

Coun. Walsh did not take any donations from corporations.

Here is a full list of the corporate donations collected by elected officials in Kamloops' 2014 civic election:

  • Peter Milobar: $28,763
  • Pat Wallace: $5,750
  • Arjun Singh: $5,670
  • Marg Spina: $3,800
  • Ken Christian: $2,900
  • Tina Lange: $2,250
  • Donovan Cavers: $1,144
  • Dieter Dudy: $450
  • Denis Walsh: $0

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kim Anderson or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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