B.C. Green Party to refuse corporate and union donations

The B.C. Green Party will fight next year’s provincial election without donations from corporations or unions, Leader Andrew Weaver told municipal politicians Wednesday at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Victoria.

“Effective today, the B.C. Green Party will no longer accept any corporate or union donations. We are a party of the people, for the people and that will be mirrored in our funding structure,” Weaver said.

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Weaver noted that groups such as the Dogwood Initiative and Fair Vote Canada have long been calling for a ban on such donations, and the time to act is now.

“Our political parties and their MLAs should not be reduced to puppets controlled by corporate or union puppet masters with a firm grip on their purse strings,” Weaver said, speaking to as many empty chairs as full ones.

“The acceptance of this practice is undermining every sector in our province, and I am tired of waiting for the B.C. government to do something about it. I am tired of listening to the official Opposition say they will change the system only if they form government. That’s not leadership.”

The B.C. Green Party received 15 per cent of its funding through corporate and union donations in 2014. That dropped to three per cent in 2015 and has picked up again this year, Weaver told reporters following his address.

“It’s not trivial. We had donations — they’ll be public — from a union and from a major corporation a few weeks ago. But you have to stand on your principles. If you want to be a party for the people, you want to claim that leadership.

“You can’t really claim that leadership and not actually follow what you’re saying.”

Weaver said he’s not particularly worried that the ban will so financially cripple the Greens that they won’t be able to run an effective provincewide campaign. He said that survey after survey has shown the vast majority of people want big money out of politics.

“It is a gamble. It is a risk, but it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Weaver said the party will not return the most recent donations, saying it had to have a process in place to track and record donations to ensure any ineligible ones can be returned.

In his speech, Weaver recalled that in his address to the UBCM in 2013, he said the B.C. Liberals’ promised LNG industry was not going to materialize.

In the face of the federal government’s announced conditional approval Tuesday of the massive Pacific Northwest LNG project, he stood by that position.

“It’s not going to ever happen. Petronas is not going to go ahead. The global market is over-supplied in natural gas,” he said.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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