In looking back at last week in the BC Legislature, North Island MLA Claire Trevena referred to it as “a week in which some of politics’ dirty secrets have been laid bare: the fundraising tactics used by Premier Christy Clark and her inner council.”
“While other jurisdictions have been embarrassed into changing the laws governing fundraising for politics, B.C.’s premier has steadfastly stuck to private fundraising, effectively selling access to herself and her ministers,” Trevena wrote in her MLA report for April 8.
Last week, Elections BC released the 2015 annual financial reports for registered political parties and registered constituency associations.
The reports include information such as political contributions accepted, fundraising function information and transfers of money, goods or services received and given.
The reports are available through the Elections BC website and show that in 2015, the BC Liberal Party received almost $10 million in donations and $5 million of that came from corporations.
The BC NDP received $3 million in political contributions last year, with $145,920 coming from corporations.
Trevena reported that last week, John Horgan, the leader of the Opposition, introduced a bill for the fifth time in as many years, which would ban corporate and union donations to political parties and ensure a cap on individual donations.
“Private members bills rarely get debated in the BC Legislature, so we tried to get the bill considered by moving it through the committee system,” wrote Trevena. “This demanded a vote of all members. Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, the BC Liberals voted no, so the bill has effectively stalled, leaving B.C. alone in allowing our politics to be paid for by corporations and lobbyists. This should not be a partisan issue but Christy Clark and the BC Liberals make it so. This is a question of public trust. People need to have every confidence that their politics and their democracy is not being bought.”
Trevena says she asked a number of questions of Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines, about environmental safety at Myra Falls and Quinsam coal mines in light of their shutdowns.
“I had written to the minister in November about oversight of the tailings pond at Myra Falls and had not received a response,” she said in her report. “While he was not able to tell me the number of times there have been inspections of the site in the last months, the minister assured me that those tailing ponds will be secure and there should not be a concern for Campbell River’s drinking water. Likewise, he has little concern about conditions at Quinsam. I will keep monitoring both of these.”
Trevena says MLAs debated the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Amendment Act and also debated a bill that creates a new park in the interior of B.C., as well as extending a number of existing parks, including Tweedsmuir, part of which is in the North Island constituency.
“I spoke in favour of the bill but underlined the need to back this, and other fine statements about parks, with money,” she wrote of the parks bill. “I also spoke about the need to look at the ecosystem as a whole. While designating area of land as a park is significant, that is seriously undermined if the neighbouring land mass is widely logged. Anyone who lives and works in the North Island knows our environment is interconnected. If we want good hunting, good fishing, good logging, good camping and good hiking, we have to look at our land base in its entirety.”
Trevena says the NDP’s focus last week in Question Period was the care and support of seniors.
“The government’s own Seniors Advocate has said 232 publicly-funded care homes do not meet the government’s own staffing guidelines, which means 80 per cent of the government-funded care homes are understaffed and seniors are paying the price,” she wrote.
In her report, Trevena stated that constituents who have noticed the large new signs about reporting wildfires may be interested in a forestry act debated last week that increases fines for failing to report a fire to $383 and for ignoring a fire ban to $1,150.