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NDP moves to limit local election money

The B.C. government is moving to limit municipal political donations to $1,200 per person, per year, in time for local elections in the fall of 2018.

Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson tabled legislation Monday that prohibits corporate and union donations to political candidates and local slates.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities has supported the change for several years, and at this year’s convention, UBCM delegates supported a motion by Oak Bay and Victoria councils to get corporate and union money out of local elections.

The $1,200 cap for individual donations also applies to electoral slates and their endorsed candidates, if they are identified on the ballot as members of a slate. A donor can give up to $1,200 to each identified slate, or $1,200 to each independent candidate he or she wants to support, even if they endorse each other or run joint advertising on shared policies.

RELATED: NDP caps provincial donations to $1,200

If the bill passes without amendments to this part, it would provide an incentive for slates not to be identified as such on the municipal ballot. In previous elections, slates have sent out voter cards by mail, urging voters to take them to the polls to identify like-minded candidates. It also leaves in place municipal slates determined by the Canadian Union of Public Employees and other staff unions.

Robinson said the legislation allows donors to give up to $1,200 each to candidates in different municipalities that they support as well.

Expense limits for local government candidates and slates are unchanged, as they were set in legislation passed by the previous B.C. government in 2016.

Robinson said the rules are designed to reflect similar restrictions being debated for provincial elections, but does not include a $2.50-per-vote public subsidy for political parties contained in the NDP government’s bill before the legislature.

She said there has never been a donation tax credit or other public subsidy to municipal councils, school boards or regional districts, and because of that, no public subsidy is considered now.

Tom Fletcher

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