The ‘pay-to-play’ culture in B.C. politics has a local advocacy group concerned about the power of wealthy interests over the provincial government.
Democracy campaigner with Dogwood Initiative Lisa Samartino says according to information found by her group, the B.C. Liberals seem to give an advantage to donating parties when handing out government contracts.
Sammartino says donating companies, on average, receive both more contracts and money per contract than non-donating counterparts.
“They’ve been saying it’s a bunch of coincidences and it very well could be, we have no evidence to say it’s not.”
LISTEN: Advocate says province is favouring companies who donate
B.C. has some of the most relaxed political donation regulations in the country, even compared to the United States, which doesn’t allow foreign parties or companies to donate to political parties.
Sammartino says the province’s lack of rules around donations is creating an unfair playing field for the rest of B.C. residents.
“The issue here is that companies can donate from their company bank account, from anywhere in the world.”
She says, of the 134 companies who were awarded contracts by the B.C. Liberals from May of 2013 to Sept of 2016, 44 of them were donors.
“But of those donating companies, they received more on average contracts and more money per contract on average than their non-donating counterparts.”
She says the average price per contract for a donating party was $3.5-million and $2.4-million for non-donating parties.
But Sammartino says it doesn’t end with government contracts.
She says $717,000 was given to the B.C. Liberals by Kinder Morgan, industry shippers, and petroleum and pipeline interests, among others.
“We are seeing over $1-million in donation including $121,000 from Malaysian and Chinese state-owned companies that are trying to build an LNG terminal, Pacific Northwest LNG.”
Sammartino says every company and person in the province should have the same voice.