Premier John Horgan, who has promised to get big money out of B.C. politics, is hosting a $500-a-head fundraising event at Bear Mountain Resort this month that will accept union and corporate donations.
The NDP is billing the event as the “Leader’s Golf Tournament” and inviting people to join Horgan and “MLA Rob Fleming” for a round of golf and a dinner reception on Thursday, Aug. 24.
The NDP is charging $2,000 for a foursome of golfers and confirmed Thursday that the event will operate under “existing rules” — meaning that corporations and unions are free to buy tickets.
B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, who helped Horgan defeat the Liberal government, blasted the NDP for continuing to hold such events, while at the same time promising to ban union and corporate donations to political parties.
“I think it’s quite outrageous that the B.C. NDP would be using a pay-for-access event like this,” he said. “You’re essentially advertising, ‘Come play golf with Premier Horgan.’ That’s just not appropriate as a fundraiser.
“And Rob Fleming is not just an MLA, he’s the minister of education. So this is as bad as everything they’ve criticized the B.C. Liberals for historically and it’s just what has to change in B.C. politics.”
Weaver, whose party stopped accepting union and corporate donations last September, said he has had good discussions with the NDP about what will be included in legislation to ban big money from B.C. politics.
“I’m encouraged by that,” he said. “But again, do as I say, not as I do? Or we’ll-ban-corporate-and-union donations-once-we’ve-paid-off-our-debt kind of thing? It’s just the wrong approach and it’s what makes people cynical about politics and politicians in general.”
Horgan promised during the 2017 provincial election campaign that an NDP government’s first piece of legislation would take big money out of politics. “It will ban corporate and union donations, and set limits on individual contributions,” the platform stated.
The promises were reiterated in the NDP’s agreement with the B.C. Green Party that allowed Horgan to defeat Premier Christy Clark and take power.
Fleming said the government will follow through on its promise to prohibit union and corporate donations once the legislature resumes sitting in September.
“We’re going to ban them at the first legislative opportunity and that’s in the fall,” he said.
In the meantime, the golf tournament will operate under existing rules, he said.
“I’ve had golf tournaments for years. I think this is the 10th annual. The price is the same. The time of year is the same, and we’ll continue to have golf and other fundraising events under the new rules because they’re fun and they’re open to the public.”
A financial report on the Elections B.C. website shows that the NDP charged $500 a ticket for a Leader’s Tournament last September, pulling in $32,000 from organizations. Once costs and other sales were tabulated, the NDP made nearly $22,000.
Told that Weaver had called this year’s event “outrageous,” Fleming said: “Did he say that word?
“Well, I think Mr. Weaver’s as excited as we are that British Columbia’s going to join the other provinces — mostly led by New Democrat governments — that have banned big money and that that’s going to happen in very short order.
“I can’t comment about how he’s conducting his fundraising activities. I know that he’s doing them. But I think the most important thing, and I know he would agree with me, is that we change the rules and we change the law.”
Raj Sihota, provincial director of the B.C. NDP, said in a statement the NDP government will introduce legislation in September to get big money out of B.C. politics. “To ensure a level playing field while the B.C. Liberals continue to fundraise from big corporations and rich insiders, it is our policy to follow the current rules until they are changed,” she said.