Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberal party are the red bullseye target in an article published Friday in the New York Times that highlighted the extent that British Columbia is the “Wild West” of political donations in Canada.
The article brings international attention to how BC has no limits on political donations, unlike many other provinces – and even the federal level – that have banned corporate, union, and foreign donations.
Clark’s party has received over $718,000 in donations from Kinder Morgan, the proponents of the recently approved Trans Mountain pipeline project, and others who support the oil industry as of early last year. And these political donations, among many others, partially go towards her stipend funded by the party.
Since becoming Premier in 2011, she has collected over $277,000 in stipends from the BC Liberal Party – up to $50,000 annually on top of her annual public salary of $195,000. The Times notes that only one other province in the country, Saskatchewan, has a premier that receives a stipend.
As well, individuals who have made major contributions have been able to meet with the Premier face-to-face at private party fundraisers.
The Times also takes aim at BC conflict-of-interest commissioner Paul Fraser and his ties to the party in power, particularly over his donations to the party and his son’s position in the Premier’s cabinet. As well, in nine years, Fraser has never found any government official to be in violation of the Conflict of Interest Act.
Last year, there were separate attempts through proposed legislation to reform BC’s archaic political contribution laws for both the provincial government and municipal governments, but the proposed ban on union and corporation donations were rejected.