The numbers can’t be surprising but they are interesting nonetheless.
According to a new poll from Insights West (sponsored by the non-profit Dogwood Initiative, based out of Victoria), B.C. voters overwhelmingly support a ban on corporate and union political donations.
Dogwood Initiative is a citizen group calling on the province to “ban big money” in politics.
The survey (you can find the full results online) showed that 86 per cent of British Columbians polled would favor bans on the corporate/union donations before the next election.
The commonly held belief is that the bigger the war chest, the better the chance of winning — in almost any election. Is that democracy in action? The report also states that B.C. is the last province in Canada to allow unlimited donations from anywhere in the world, including in municipal elections. The survey shows this leaves members of the public more than a little cynical about the role of ordinary citizens. More than two-thirds of adults polled (68 per cent) believe citizens are not influential in shaping policy in this province. The most influential group is corporations (90 per cent).
Ranked in order of influence were corporations, lobbyists, foreign investors, unions and then the citizens themselves. Seems a little backward, no? Exactly how are citizens supposed to trust political leaders if they believe the outside influence is that strong — and they feel their own input is so undervalued?
According to the number presented in the report, basically, folks believe the system is broken. If citizens in a democracy have little faith in their own actual power, that’s a problem. Obviously, it takes money to run any campaign. But it shouldn’t be the primary factor in anyone’s ability to get themselves elected.
What remains to be seen is how quickly the political powers give up their war chests – and how much of a fight they will put up to get citizens to where they want to be. Levelling out the playing field is long overdue.