RADIA: Dix's political donations plan is a gimmick to benefit NDP

FACE TO FACE: Should union and corporate political donations be banned?

So, the NDP’s Adrian Dix wants to follow the lead of the federal government and ban all union and corporate donations to political parties.

Surprise, surprise, the new plan would help the NDP.

According to The Province, in 2012, the BC Liberals raised approximately $10 million compared to the NDP’s $7 million. With Dix’s plan, however, the NDP would have the advantage with $5.4 million raised compared to the BC Liberals’ $5 million.

If we believe Dix, his proposed rules would limit “special interests” from yielding too much influence. But maybe Dix needs to look at the national scene to see how the unions try to circumvent the intent of these rules.

Last May, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) — Canada’s largest public sector union — added a 26-cent monthly “tax” to its members’ union dues to boost the union’s war chest for political action campaigns.

In May, the union marched on Parliament Hill wearing “Stephen Harper hates me”  t-shirts and buttons. In September, PSAC commissioned an airplane to fly over Parliament Hill with a banner that read “Stephen Harper nous déteste.ca” (translated as “Stephen Harper hates us.ca”). And now it is producing a series of videos highlighting services that will be nixed as a result of government budget and job cuts.

So, yes, the unions aren’t donating to the political parties but they’re doing their own dirty work. The same could happen in British Columbia.

To be clear, I think we need some form of campaign finance reform. I would like to see a ban on out-of-province donations — Alberta oil companies should not get a say in who our next premier is — and I’d also like to see campaign spending limits extended to municipal elections.

But a ban on corporate and union donations is not needed.

When did “special interest”  become such a negative phrase? Corporations, unions, church groups, sports organizations and non-profits have an interest — a big interest — in who wins an election, just as individuals do. They should be allowed to affiliate themselves with a political party if they choose to do so.

And if we, the voters, feel one group is yielding undue influence on a given political party, we can vote them out in the next election. That’s democracy.

Dix’s idea? That’s gimmickry.

Andy Radia is a Coquitlam resident and political columnist who writes for Yahoo! Canada News and Vancouver View Magazine. He has been politically active in the Tri-Cities, having been involved with election campaigns at all three levels of government, including running for Coquitlam city council in 2005.


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