THE BLOG

Don't Take Any Civics Lesson From The BC NDP

03/10/2017 09:20 EST | Updated 03/10/2017 09:23 EST
LoweStock via Getty Images
The historic Victoria, BC government building seen at sunset in the inner harbor of this beautiful city.

Are the BC NDP full of crap?

Yeah, sort of, they are.

They've gone bananas about the fact that Elections BC is asking the governing party about fundraising stuff. What they're not telling anyone is that they're being asked, too.

And John Horgan's crew aren't enthusiastic about anyone probing BC NDP fundraising practices. There's a history, you see.

Look, no one I know loves to do political fundraising. But, until the media agree to give political parties free ad space, political parties have no choice but to fundraise. And, to put a fine point on it, there's nothing illegitimate about political fundraising. It happens in every democracy. It happens in every political party.

As the sterling examples of Ross Perot and Pete DuPont always remind us, however, you don't win elections with money. You win 'em with great leaders, great teams, great ideas. That's why the B.C. Liberals are doing well on the fundraising front, I think: Christy Clark's got the hottest economy in Canada, people like her, and she's competitive. So B.C. voters are expressing support in the polls, and with their chequebooks, too.

Politics ain't free. Modern political campaigns, of every stripe, demand that political parties develop deep grass-roots networks, to communicate with voters, to develop and learn from voter data, to use social media tools to its advantage, and so on. Advertising, too -- lots of it. That's what any party's fundraising is used for. In some campaigns, up to 90 per cent of fundraising goes to ads in the media (the selfsame media crying "scandal," I note without ironic comment).

In Canada, in B.C., our campaigns get by on only a fraction of the kind of money that is spent in the U.S. Our system is better than theirs, and our system usually works. Most Canadian political parties fundraise within the rules -- and, if there's a problem, there is typically no shortage of oversight, in the form of arms-length elections overseers, and in the form of investigative reporters. It's easy to say the system is broken. But, most of the time, it just isn't true.

I'm out here in the Centre of the Universe, and I haven't been to B.C. in a long while. But, if I were, I'd say this to Clark's B.C. Libs: you shouldn't take any ethics lessons from the party that skimmed hundreds of thousands of dollars from charities over a 20-year period. You shouldn't take any civics lessons from the BC NDP, which operated lotteries and bingo games with the proceeds going to them, not to local charities.

The scandal -- because that it is what it was -- was massive. It came to be known as "Bingogate," because the BC NDP had literally used the old-fashioned game to rip off the system. It was all overseen by a cabinet minister in the then-government of Mike Harcourt, and hundreds of thousands of dollars were siphoned off, and into BC NDP coffers. The cabinet minister -- Dave Stupich -- pleaded guilty to fraud charges, and the Bingogate scandal contributed to the resignation of Harcourt (who himself was not charged).

I was there when it all went down: the BC NDP was, in my experience, the most corrupt political party I'd ever seen. Ripping off charities to fill their coffers? Seriously?

That's a scandal. Was then, still is now.

Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook

Also on HuffPost: