Election Act Amendments Introduced
Prince George, B.C.- In the wake of controversy over pay for access, and the launching of an RCMP investigation into allegations surrounding campaign donations, Premier Christy Clark’s team has introduced legislation to reform the electoral financing legislation and have regular reviews of that system.
Amendments to the Election Act tabled today will introduce real-time reporting of contributions and include new rules for how fundraising events and political contributions are reported so the public can see who is donating to any political party.
Key measures include:
- Lowering the threshold for reporting political contributions from a single contributor to $100 (currently it is $250).
- Reporting contributions to major political parties, candidates and constituency associations within 14 days of their deposit, including the nature of the contribution (whether it is a donation, a ticketed event or a sponsorship).
- Fundraising functions must be posted on the political party’s website within five days of the event.
- A penalty of $10,000 for failing to publish fundraising information as required.
The amendments in this legislation will also give authority for the chief electoral officer to publish disclosure reports and other financing reports online.
Premier Clark has instructed the deputy attorney general to develop a framework for an independent panel to regularly review B.C.’s electoral financing system and make recommendations for reform to the legislature.
The independent panel would be modelled on existing bodies such as the Electoral Boundaries Commission and would provide a venue that is above partisan politics to achieve reforms that are fair, effective and accountable to citizens. Key elements would include:
- Selection to the expert panel must be unanimously approved by the legislature.
- The independent panel will make recommendations every eight years after reviewing submissions from political parties, MLAs and the public as well as reviewing reforms and procedures in other jurisdictions.
- Current proposed legislation in B.C. as well as other reforms proposed by the federal government would be included in the review.
The deputy attorney general’s work would be completed in the summer of 2017 and would form the basis of legislation to be introduced immediately afterwards. The independent panel would commence its work following the passage of legislation into law.