Former campaign finance critics now silent

Post by Daniel Fontaine in ,

7 comments


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.

7 Comments

Fair point in general. However, I won't get my hopes up about substantive change, considering Bill Bennett (hardly a squeaky-clean campaigner) is the chair of the task force.

One small quibble: Is Vision really "running what appears to be an expensive re-election operation"? Care to expand on this?

Care to expand upon your smear of Bill Bennett? On second thought, don't bother. Post it on your own blog.

Do the quick math on interest for a quarter million dollar debt, the salary for existing staff and their new executive director position which was posted before February. There is no precedent in Vancouver civic politics for this kind of ongoing election spending.

"The bombastic Cadman has been silenced now that developer money could well become the key to his re-election success."

Are you saying that COPE is on the point of accepting cash from developers? And that developers are actually willing to donate money to COPE?

Or are you just making this up?

It goes like this. Cadman needs the Vision machine to get re-elected (even he won't argue that point). Vision asks developers to fund their campaigns. Therefore, Cadman benefits from all that developer money flowing into Vision's coffers.

For Cadman to somehow claim that because COPE doesn't directly take developer money...he doesn't benefit from it...is completely disingenuous. I suspect you already know that.

How come your speculative claims are okay but my opinions are a smear?

I agree, Vision appear to be spending some money. I'm just wondering if you've seen any activities that you would consider campaigning, or if it's just that spending in between election years is new and notable for Vancouver.

"It goes like this. Cadman needs the Vision machine to get re-elected (even he won't argue that point). Vision asks developers to fund their campaigns. Therefore, Cadman benefits from all that developer money flowing into Vision's coffers."

Very creative but specious reasoning.

COPE's biggest asset since the great schism that gave rise to Vision has been its adamant refusal to accept money or favours from developers. Its pact with Vision in the last election was driven by the desire of both parties to avoid vote-splitting. On that occasion, vote-splitting posed a greater threat to COPE. In the next election, it's Vision that stands to lose the most ground. If anything, Vision's corporate benefactors can only drive exasperated left-wing voters into the arms of COPE.

People are sick of the blatant buying of favours that comes with allowing corporations to make large donations to parties and candidates. Unfortunately, the Campbell Liberals--who raise 60-75% of their campaign funds from business--will never agree to ban the practice, not even at the civic level. Meanwhile, disgusted voters abstain from elections in droves.

People are sick of the blatant buying of favours that comes with allowing corporations to make large donations to parties and candidates.

Are they? I would tend to agree, except I haven't seen anything that would indicate that you're right. I bet if you asked them, most people would say yes, but that it would be fairly low on their list of important civic political issues.

It would be interesting to see some numbers, though.

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