Readers’ questions have been coming in but there’s still room for a few more before the election. If you have a burning question for the candidates, click here for further information to submit it to Aim High. Your questions should be geared to all of the candidates and not just for one of them.
* Each question is forwarded to the declared candidates almost a week prior to the question actually being posted online here at Aim High. The candidates then email me their responses to be included with the initial question. Readers and the candidates can discuss via the Comment section.
Questions from readers for next week: -Should the provincial school curriculum include teaching about gay and lesbian relationships?
– I know that there is a 7 year moratorium on new fish farms in BC waters. Would you ban all open-net salmon farming on our BC coasts asap?
This week’s question as submitted by readers is:
I like Intergrity BC‘s straight-forward idea on campaign donations.
“It’s time to take big money out of BC politics by banning corporate, union and out-of-province donations.
The fundamental principle must be: if you can’t vote for a candidate or party, you can’t write out a cheque to it.
Individual donations must also be capped to ensure that deep pockets don’t drown out other voices.”
Do you agree with their fundamental principle? Would you introduce this legislation if your party doesn’t?
Candidate Responses (in the order received):
Tom Birch (BC Conservatives):
The BC Conservative party has always held that allowing corporations and unions or other special interest groups to donate to political parties allows them to buy the government.
At the very least, it clouds issues such as when the Pacific Western Brewery supported liberal MLA Rich Coleman for $27,000 and then last November he changes a tax law that saves them $10 million.
Government MUST belong to the people. That is why I agree with my party and Integrity BC that only individuals should be able to support political parties. They should also have limits as should any third party that wants to run political ads during an election.
The point of these restrictions is to strengthen our democracy so that it brings the people back to Victoria as partners with their MLAs.
Partnering with the people we represent is the reason that the BC Conservative MLAs will represent their constituents first and our party second. It is expected of us that we will do right by the people before the party.
Many of our policies and actions are directly related to this:
– Our Spend Smarter Initiative will bring greater public scrutiny on government spending.
– We will publish our expenses (and I am doing so already through my smart phone app, Victoria In Your Hands).
– I will not allow personal emails to be used for government. This is a way the the current Liberal government has been hiding its actions so that 45% of requests under the Freedom of Information Act that go to the Premier’s office get no response.
It is time to partner with our constituents again the way our democracy was intended to be.
Chris George ( Green Party of BC):
I agree with the principle. In a democracy we must take care that it is the will of the people that is listened to. I must make clear that the following is my personal position and is not official party policy. Official party policy calls for reform and we have supported the Independent candidates in their pursuit of the same ends as Integrity BC.
I would like to see a hard limit of $100 per voter, per election, with a 100% refund for this donation on the next tax return that the voter files. This would not be a tax credit, but an actual straight refund.
This is the only way to ensure that the millionaire land developer’s voice carries the same weight as the voice of a stay at home single mother on welfare. Our current system is a perversion of democracy as it equates one’s willingness to spend money with the weight that one’s opinion will carry in the process.
A democratic society must be willing to equal and inclusive in order to foster the legitimacy of the system of government and to encourage every citizen to feel that their voice matters and will be heard.
As a member of a political party that follows a principle of participatory democracy, I will advocate for this position with the policy group within the party. This is the path to positive change in a democratic system of government and I am happy to have it accessible to every British Columbian, regardless of their financial ability.
Updated: Both Greg Kyllo and Steve Gunner had tech issues that delayed getting their responses in. Their answers are now in and posted below.
Greg Kyllo (BC Liberals):
The temptation to characterize certain donations as having a disproportionate influence on our parties must be weighed against the reality of financing costly campaigns.. Without these contributions, campaigns would be impossible. While I believe companies, unions and individuals should be permitted to donate, we must increase transparency and regulation for such contributions. For example, unions should vote on where and how much to donate, to prevent union executives from directing donations to causes not supported by their members. Individual and corporate donations must also be limited, so that no party is beholden to the special interests of a few contributors.
Steve Gunner (BC NDP):
If the NDP is elected, we have already committed to ban union and corporate donations and strike a legislative committee to examine and make recommendations on other issues around the financing of politics in British Columbia.
We believe that individual citizens should be at the centre of our political process.
We have seen voter participation fall election after election, and the belief that a single vote cannot overcome the influence of big money encourages that trend.
With an NDP government, legislation to bring the ban into effect will be introduced and passed in the first sitting of the first session following the election. The ban will be effective January 1, 2014.
* From Tim: This post will stick at the top of the blog until the next question and responses are posted next Sunday!
– Here are many ways to follow the Declared Shuswap Candidates for the Provincial Election May 14 2013 on the web
… and don’t forget to send in your questions! There is still room/time for more!
… Plus here is the link to the previous questions/responses: