Christy Clark’s Liberals love to call themselves the party of “free enterprise.” As we all know, in a free enterprise system you get what you pay for.
In January, Premier Clark’s government approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Is it any surprise that over the last five years Kinder Morgan and other supporters of the project donated about $718,000 to the BC Liberal Party? Some of the Liberals’ biggest donors are companies with huge stakes in the oil sands, like Chevron, Imperial Oil and Cenovus.
Then there’s the $40,950 that accounting firm KPMG gave to the BC Liberals in 2014. KPMG? They’re the company BC Hydro hired to “independently review” the costs of the $8.8-billion Site C dam. Christy Clark cited their report when the Liberals ignored an expert recommendation to send the project to the B.C. Utilities Commission for review. Since 2005, KPMG and its related companies have given $284,994 to the BC Liberals.
The BC Liberals raised about $13 million in donations last year. It’s a staggering sum. (Ontario’s Liberal party, with three times the population and a much bigger economy, raised only $9.7 million.) Of that, $6.9 million came from cash-for-access events, where donors pay big bucks for face-time with the premier, cabinet ministers and MLAs. In a free enterprise system you don’t spend that kind of money without expecting a sizable return on your investment.
Much of the Liberals’ campaign war chest comes from registered lobbyists — people who get paid to influence politicians on behalf of their clients. Dozens of them have been funnelling tens of thousands of dollars to Christy Clark’s Liberals every year for years, often in their own name, concealing the corporate connection.
Upset about salmon farming decimating wild salmon stocks? Take it up with Mark Jiles.
Mark Jiles holds the record for Most Donations to the Liberal Party by a Corporate Shill — 89 since 2011, totalling $68,209 (more than the average Canadian earns in a year) and mostly in his own name. One of Mark Jiles’ clients? The BC Salmon Farmer’s Association.
For the 2017 election, the Liberals have taken free enterprise efficiency to new heights (or depths). They’ve eliminated the middle man. Five of their candidates are former lobbyists who have promoted the interests of clients like Chevron, Pacific Northwest LNG, Woodfibre LNG, ExxonMobil and Kinder Morgan with Premier Christy Clark and other top ministers, including Environment Minister Mary Polak and Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett.
Since 2008, the NDP has tabled six bills (one by our own MLA, Gary Holman) to get big money out of politics. The Liberals squashed every one. On May 9 we can finally end what Democracy Watch has called “legalized bribery” and break the two-way flow of money and favours between the Liberals and environmentally destructive corporations.
An NDP government will ban union and corporate donations, and place a hard cap on individual donations. Electing the NDP on May 9 will finally break big money’s death grip on our fragile democracy.
The writer is a long-time Salt Spring resident.