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and like was done federally

Time:2017-09-26 21:42Shoes websites Click:

Flop Political parties subsidies

VICTORIA – Premier John Horgan admitted Tuesday his new bill to provide public subsidies to political parties was not what he campaigned on in the last election, but argued it is still an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars.

“I’m unapologetic about wanting to get big money out of politics,” he told reporters at the legislature. “I’m unapologetic about having a transition fund that will be gone by the next election.”

Horgan faced pointed questions in the legislature by Opposition Liberal MLAs, as well as the media, about why he would have insisted so clearly before the May 9 election that a per-vote subsidy by taxpayers for political parties was not his plan.

His new legislation, introduced Monday, bans corporate and union donations but also institutes per-vote subsidies worth $27.5 million over the next four years, with an option to continue or eliminate them after year five.

“I’m owning up to what I said before the campaign, I don’t want you to think that I’m running away from this because I’m not,” said Horgan. “But it is not what you are making it out to be. This is a transition fund and will be gone at the end of this mandate.”

However, the bill does also contain a clause to allow an all-party committee of MLAs to extend the subsidy with a decision in 2022. Horgan said MLAs will have to be accountable if they choose to extend the funding.

Horgan said his minority government situation, and partnership with the Greens, meant the NDP had to accelerate an internal review into campaign finance reform and decided upon the subsidy as part of its research. The bill also caps personal donations at $1,200 a year, and sets new rules on loans and other financing mechanisms.

“It’s a massive change in how we do business in British Columbia,” said Horgan.

“We believe it’s good public policy to have a transition, which is a modest cost to taxpayers in the grand scheme of things and will be gone in four years. I think it’s critically important to not make this what it’s not, this is not public financing from now to the end of time, which is what exists in Quebec.

“We believe this transition will aide political parties in changing how they do business in the interest of people.”

Nonetheless, Horgan faced continued questions about his contradictory statements.

Before the election, then Liberal premier Christy Clark accused Horgan of proposing political finance reforms that would ultimately leave taxpayers footing the bill. Horgan repeatedly denied that was the plan.

“The premier in all of her distortions last week, one of them was she said my preference was taxpayers pay for political parties, that’s just not the case,” Horgan told reporters on Feb. 16 at the legislature. “It’s up to the independent B.C. head of elections and the committee that will be struck to take a look at all options and bring forward the best one for B.C.”

That review, headed by Elections B.C., was also not contained in the NDP legislation Monday. 

A week earlier, on a Feb. 9 appearance on Victoria radio station CFAX, Horgan also denied public funding for parties would occur if he was elected.

“At no time have I said that I prefer to make public dollars responsible for political parties, at no time,” he told host Al Ferraby. “Again, the premier (is) just making stuff up. I believe we need to get big money out of politics.”

Opposition Liberal house leader Mike de Jong attacked Horgan during question period Tuesday for the flip-flop.

“Why is he breaking his repeated promise and forcing British Columbians to fund, through their taxes, political parties they have no interest or desire to support?” de Jong asked. He accused Horgan of breaking his word, and scoffed at the notion the NDP would allow the subsidy to be phased out in year five.

“If anyone thinks after five years the NDP and Green party are going to turn off the tap on public funding on political parties, I’ve got a bridge in Richmond I’d like to sell them,” he said.

In response, Horgan called de Jong “the class clown.”

Horgan said Tuesday he did not follow through with his Elections B.C. review because he didn’t win a majority government on May 9. Instead, he signed a power-sharing deal with the Greens that allowed him to topple the Liberals and become premier on July 18.

“I don’t want to leave you with the impression I was fixed on this, I wasn’t,” he said of the subsidies.

“I was fixed on making sure we got big money out of politics. I was fixed on forming a majority government. That didn’t happen. Now I deal with the circumstances I find myself in. This is in no way suggesting Mr. Weaver and his colleagues had any undue influence.”

Green leader Andrew Weaver denied his party pushed the NDP behind-the-scenes during negotiations to force the subsidy. The Greens have used consultation to force the NDP to change position on numerous issues so far, including child care, secret ballots for unions and the timeline to reach a $15 minimum wage.

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