Dan Fumano: Most Vancouver parties promise pre-election transparency

Opinion: If TEAM chooses not to voluntarily disclose its financial information ahead of the election, we can expect to hear about it over the next two months from the parties that do.

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Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s new party, Forward Together, voluntarily unveiled its list of donors on Monday and called on opponents to do the same ahead of the Oct. 15 election.

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Forward Together’s list of donors includes several big names in the property development community, including many maximum donations from people with surnames such as Aquilini, Bosa, De Cotiis, Molnar, Bonnis and Pappajohn. And, unsurprisingly, given that Stewart is a former Simon Fraser University political scientist turned NDP MP, the list includes prominent New Democrats and academics.

Six other local parties also pledged Monday to release their donor lists, and only TEAM for a Livable Vancouver declined to make that pledge when asked.

COPE provided its list immediately upon request on Monday, and representatives from the NPA, OneCity, Greens, Vision, ABC Vancouver and Progress Vancouver said theirs would soon be public and pledged to make disclosures. before the October elections.

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In an emailed statement, TEAM council candidate Bill Tieleman did not explicitly rule out the possibility of pre-election voluntary disclosure, but did not commit to it either, saying simply that the party “will review the time of publication of its list of donors, but will follow all election rules of Elections BC and Vancouver.

Civic political parties are required to file annual returns with Elections BC showing all funds raised and spent. But these would not normally be public until the following year. The move to voluntarily release donor information before Election Day — and then challenge opponents to do the same — has been a regular feature of recent Vancouver elections for several years.

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In a Monday press release, Forward Together executive director Mark Hosak said the mayor and his party “believe it’s critical that voters know who is funding politics in this city, before anyone votes.” .

“In 2018, all of Vancouver’s major parties followed Kennedy Stewart’s lead in disclosing who funded their campaigns and Forward Together believes residents deserve the same level of public transparency in this election,” Hosak’s statement said.

Monday’s disclosure shows that between May 2018 — when Stewart announced his intention to run for mayor in this year’s election — and June 30, 2022, Stewart, first independently, then more recently with his new party Forward Together, raised over $1.13 million. from 2,473 different people, totaling 6,480 separate donations over the period of more than four years, for an average of $175 per donation.

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But even if the mayor’s party succeeds in fundraising by election day, it will be limited in how much it can spend this year.

Elections BC’s spending limits are capped at $231,767 for a mayoral candidate and $120,491 per council candidate. Because Stewart only has a slate of three council candidates running alongside him on Forward Together, the party’s spending limit will be less than $600,000 in total this year, unless they add more candidates.

With ABC Vancouver fielding seven candidates for council, six for park council and five for school board, the party’s spending limit is more than $2.3 million this year, the party’s campaign manager says. , Kareem Allam.

“Ken Sim and ABC want a majority on the board to give stable and predictable governance, something that has been lacking with the minority government of the past four years,” Allam said.

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The architects of British Columbia’s spending laws wanted to incentivize parties to “deliver stable majorities,” Allam said. “We are seeking the majority on all the lists. The additional spending cap will allow us to do that. This means for us that we have more money for brochures, events and social media presence.

ABC will release its list of donors within a week or two, Allam said.

It seems possible that Forward Together could add one or two more council candidates to the slate, which would increase the party’s overall spending limit. Asked about the slate, Hosak, the party’s executive director, said: ‘Mayor Kennedy Stewart is proud of our candidates, Dulcy Anderson, Russil Wvong and Hilary Brown who have been announced so far and we look forward to providing more. information on our full list at a later date.

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Political donations have been in the spotlight lately, after Postmedia reported last week on a new organization called the Pacific Prosperity Network, which works to help ‘pro-business’ candidates win in municipal elections this fall.

Because PPN is a non-profit corporation and not a political party, the group boasts that it can accept unlimited donations, including from corporations, with no public reporting requirements. All of this is allowed in the rules. But the news has raised concerns among some critics because the source of the funds is not transparent, nor is the destination. This year.

TEAM is not required to publicly disclose financial information prior to the election. But if they choose not to, we can expect to hear about it over the next two months from Stewart and all the other politicians who do.

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