Michael Alexander reports – urgently:
An all -party Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits is holding hearings today until 7 p.m. in room 320 at the Wosk Centre, 580 West Hastings. They’re taking public testimony on putting caps on spending for local elections. However, their mandate does not include recommending limits on contributions to local parties.
From the executive summary of their Phase 1 report in December:
The Committee concluded its deliberations by recommending that fairness, neutrality, transparency and accountability be principles which may inform the development of legislation on expense limits for candidates, elector organizations, and third party advertisers. In relation to the principle of neutrality, the Committee concluded that an approach of no separate additional expense limits for elector organizations was desirable. The Committee also recommended that third party advertising be included in an expense limits framework, with an overarching, cumulative limit as exists in provincial elections.
The Committee will continue its work in 2015 with the examination and development of recommendations on expense limit amounts for candidates, elector organizations, and third party advertisers.
Let’s say that the Committee recommends, and the provincial legislature passes, laws limiting party spending to $1 million per election. But there is no cap on individual contributions. So, I give the NPA an unsolicited $1 million and become that party’s sole funder. Then, to eliminate all risk, I do the same with Vision Vancouver, and a lesser amount to the Green Party. I am now the sole funder of what is, almost certainly, every elected councillor in the city.
For a bit more than $2 million, I now have singular access and influence over legislation of the province’s largest city, for four years.