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Earlier this month the 2016 donation numbers for B.C.'s political parties were filed with Elections B.C. and, not unexpectedly, it was another bumper crop for the B.C. Liberals. The party raised $13.1 million, more than any other provincial party in Canada and $4.8 million more than the federal NDP and Green Party combined.
B.C. politics already has its dark money donations that are difficult to trace back to an actual donor. But the free for all when it comes to political fundraising in the province has given rise to another murky practice: raising campaign cash from some dark corners of the world.
The government says the ads informed the public.
This past weekend the Globe and Mail reported that lobbyists in the province have been making political donations on behalf of their clients, effectively camouflaging the identity of the real donors and breaking B.C.'s Elections Act in the process.
If last year's provincial budget could be described as "petty" after Finance Minister Mike de Jong doled out an increase in assistance rates for those living with disabilities -- only to claw most of it back by ending the subsidized bus pass program -- this year's budget could best be described as "petulant."
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Splat. It would seem British Columbia's 41st general election is well underway. News that someone may have hacked the B.C. Liberal party's website caused quite the uproar. Charges, counter-charges, flurries of tweets, threats of lawsuits, privacy investigations, possible police investigations, it had it all.
The stipend affair has not been one of Clark's shining moments. It was sad that a premier who once boasted she was going to put families first didn't appreciate the optics of accepting a semi-secret, five-figure top-up that was more than most British Columbians make in a year.
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Mere hours before the New York Times went to press with its look at the B.C. Liberal party's ethical scorecard, the party chose to get its 2016 fundraising results out ahead of the storm. One last chance at political counter-spin and what a marvel of spin it was. U.S. Republican party strategist Karl Rove would have been proud.
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It's official. After hitting send to more than 2,680 news releases this year, the B.C. government's Communications and Public Engagement Office is now scraping the bottom of the barrel for an excuse -- any excuse -- to trumpet the government's prowess.
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News that's guaranteed to cheer the hearts of a small number of B.C. companies is word that they've been added to a list of pre-qualified suppliers to the B.C. government. The lists are intended to offer all the appearances of open and transparent procurement. They can be anything but.
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The B.C. government is in the midst of saturating television shows and social media news feeds in the province with a multimillion-dollar back-patting advertising campaign in advance of the 2017 election. The B.C. Liberal party -- who clearly have money to burn -- is getting in on the act as well with mood-setting political ads.
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B.C. may still see an LNG plant, but as for that $1 trillion in economic activity and $100 billion prosperity fund the only step left is to call time of death. There's an upside for the government. The public never bought the hype in the first place.
Just thumb through the party's 2009 donor list for a sense of how widespread the practice of awarding contracts to friends has become. Back then, someone must have woke up on New Year's Day with one hell of a hangover -- not from the night before -- but from the bank balance in the B.C. Liberal party's account.
Lip service to local autonomy.