So, here we are in September.
Holidays are over, the rain has returned and city council is preparing for its fall session.
An exciting time, right?
You betcha, said the city hall scribe as he typed his first few sentences in three weeks and wondered why his employer doesn’t implement one of those systems that school boards have for welcoming back students.
You know, the system where kids show up for a few minutes on Tuesday, maybe an hour on Wednesday, half day Thursday and full day Friday.
Seems much more civilized than this full-day insanity on Day One.
But enough whining, you say, and get back to work.
So what can I tell ya?
Let’s start with Coralee Oakes.
She happens to be the latest provincial minister responsible for overseeing this whole civic electoral reform mess that I’ve written about for several years.
It’s a mess because the only way a civic candidate gets elected in this town is if the candidate hitches his or herself to a political party that is heavily funded by unions and big business.
Aside from Carole Taylor — yes, that Carole Taylor — name the last independent candidate elected to city hall? And don’t google it, either.
As I thought, you drew a blank. So did I.
For several years, previous and current city councils — the very politicians who benefited from multi-million dollar campaigns — have called on the provincial government to get the big money out of civic politics.
I know, I know — seems hypocritical to say they don’t want the big money yet they keep taking it. But handshake deals between parties to set fundraising and spending limits ain’t going to happen.
As Vision Coun. Andrea Reimer told me once, she wants electoral reforms clearly spelled out in law. And that’s why she and others on council have pushed the provincial government to make changes.
Oakes says they’re coming.
She said as much in new release her ministry issued Aug. 21 that stated “the intended changes are the most significant to local elections legislation in nearly two decades.”
The release went on to say the changes are a reflection of a joint provincial and Union of B.C. Municipalities local government elections task force.
But nowhere in the release is there any indication the government is interested in implementing expense limits or banning union and corporate donations — as Vancouver city council has requested. In fact, here’s exactly what one of the bullet points says:
“A white paper outlining government’s intentions will be released in early September and legislation is scheduled to be introduced in Spring 2014 to implement task force recommendation, except expense limits, for the 2014 local elections.”
Did you catch that — “except expense limits?”
What we will see instead is disclosure and registration by third-party advertisers, sponsorship information required on election advertising, campaign finance disclosure statements filed 90 days after an election instead of 120 days and a ban on anonymous contributions.
In other words, let the multi-million dollar fundraising campaigns begin and good luck to any of those poor suckers thinking they can actually run independently and get elected in Vancouver.
The election is November 2014.
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