Elections BC says it’s reviewing information about political contributions after news came to light that corporations are illegally funnelling money to the BC liberals through lobbyists.
It says the investigation into the matter remains “open-ended.”
Depending on how the review progresses, the matter may be forwarded to the Criminal Justice Branch if it appears that the Election Act has been breached.
A statement says penalties for violating election financing provisions of the Election Act include a fine of up to $10,000, jail up to one year, or both.
This fundraising practice in question was brought to light by the Globe and Mail when two registered lobbyists confirmed they had been reimbursed by corporations for fundraising tickets after purchasing tickets as an “individual donor.”
Meanwhile, the leader of the BC Greens is calling on both Elections BC and the RCMP to investigate the allegations.
In a statement, Green leader Andrew Weaver says a weekend Globe and Mail report alleges many donations to the Liberals are either fraudulent or made in violation of the Election Act, and that the party is encouraging it by holding cash-for-access events.
“The report raises very serious questions about influence peddling and corruption of our democratic process,” reads part of the statement.
In an email to CKNW, it appears the BC Liberal Party is blaming donors for the problem.
Spokesperson Emile Scheffel says, “It appears this was due to donors’ misunderstanding of the rules around political contributions in B.C., and we are taking immediate steps to ensure all donors understand their legal obligations under the Election Act. Whenever we become aware of behaviour that contravenes the Election Act, we work with Elections BC to address it.”
He says remedies can include refunding or forfeiting donations.
Response from the opposition
Meanwhile, the BC NDP is firing back against the BC Liberals.
Speaking on Steele and Drex, NDP MLA Selina Robinson is hammering again that their party has come to the table with motion after motion to ban big money in politics.
“At the end of the day, the BC Liberals have had opportunity after opportunity, after opportunity, after opportunity, six of them in fact, when we tabled legislation in the house. Each and every single time, they refused to act.”
Robinson says party leader John Horgan has instructed the BC NDP to review whether or not they take political donations from lobbyists, but didn’t clarify if that decision was made today.
Deputy Premier and Liberal party campaign co-chair Rich Coleman says the party has nothing to hide.
“The reason why Christy Clark is not stopping it, the reason why she’s not endorsing our legislation, is because she likes it just like this. Because it works for her, and the people at the top. It means they have her ear, and it means they fill her coffers. And together, it’s a perfect marriage,” Robinson says.
The Provincial Election is scheduled for May 9.
With files from Jonathon Hall