Why is it that only a handful of people know who's contributing to Vision Vancouver?
Last October Vision Vancouver invited everyone they knew to attend a major fundraiser held at the Wall Centre in Vancouver. The tickets weren’t cheap, and some folks estimate after all the crumpets and fondue were gobbled up, Vision netted in the six figures. Those funds were apparently used to pay off part of that nasty $240,000 debt carried over from the 2008 civic election campaign. According to media reports, many of the attendees included a who’s who of Vancouver’s business community, including a number of prominent developers. Several of those developers either have projects before City Hall or one in the works.
When the NPA were in power, Vision took every opportunity to slam them for what they considered a lack of disclosure when it came to the fundraising efforts of Mayor Sam Sullivan and the party. I simply won't bore you by regurgitating all the statements made by the various Vision politicians. However, I do recall one council meeting where David Cadman went so far as to publicly reference how brown envelopes might be making their way into the pockets of NPA politicians. Boy, how times have changed now that Vision and COPE are running the government over at Vancouver City Hollyhock. The bombastic Cadman has been silenced now that developer money could well become the key to his re-election success.
How much did those developers donate to Vision Vancouver? Who was it that actually made those donations? Are they continuing to bankroll the party and its elected officials? The answer to all these three questions is...well, we simply don’t know. We contacted the City Clerk a few days ago and she confirms that no supplementary disclosure documents have been filed by Vision Vancouver. This is despite them (and their supporters) making such a big stink about this during the last term. I simply stopped keeping track of all the columnists who picked up on Vision's angst, then wrote about it in their publications.
The fact Vancouver voters are still unaware of who provided Vision with huge sums of money last fall should be of concern. That said, I have yet to see a single article in The Tyee or other major publications about Vision’s lack of financial disclosure.
During the last term, The Tyee went to great lengths to insinuate that Sullivan had somehow set up secret societies and was inappropriately funneling money to his political party. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Despite Sullivan’s attempts at trying to correct the record,, these allegations continue to have currency with the NPA's critics.
Now that Vision is in government, the previously vocal critics who vehemently argued that too much developer money was influencing civic government have gone silent. They appear only too happy to support a system that allows hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to flow into a political party which is more aligned with their politics.
The Province of BC is currently asking for public input regarding the way we finance civic elections. If you want your views heard, now it the time to contact them.
The legislation governing the disclosure of political donations in Vancouver is very clear. If you raise any money to pay off your previous campaign debt, it must be declared as soon as it is received. Given that Vision now have several paid staff and are running what appears to be an expensive re-election operation, the time has come to let the public know who’s paying the freight. We're not holding our breath.
It would also be nice if all those former critics, who’ve since lost their voice, would join us in a call for more openness and transparency when it comes to how political parties and elected officials are financed in Vancouver.