Sean Leslie | Email news tips to Sean
Premier Christy Clark has no plans to take big money out of BC politics, in part because of a recent court ruling.
While the Federal Government and several Provinces have banned union and corporate donations to political parties, the issue is clearly not a priority for the BC Liberals.
Clark says a recent Court ruling that struck down strict limits on third party advertising makes the issue moot, "They're allowed to spend as much as they want without limit. It really renders the whole debate about whether or not there are union or corporate donations to political parties irrelevant, doesn't it?"
Of course, such a ban would blow a huge whole in Liberal finances. Corporations donated 5.5 million dollars in 2011, while unions gave just 865 grand to the NDP.
The Province, December 10, 2012.Some in the mainstream media feasted on The Province’s shocking revelation Friday that the B.C. Federation of Labour openly supports the NDP and is contributing ideas to their election platform. Scoop! Front-page news, supported by an 11-page summary that divulged Big Labour’s secret strategy developed by thousands of union “insiders” who met behind closed doors.
Seems the unions still want to elect an NDP government. Who knew? There you have it: irrefutable proof that Adrian Dix is in Jim Sinclair’s pocket. Or as the B.C. Liberal campaign director Mike McDonald, put it, “[Dix] tried to fool people that he was a moderate with a modest agenda . . . he just got busted.”
Stupid me. I still tend to believe Mr. Dix when he says that he will raise corporate taxes a hair, possibly increase personal income taxes on those earning upwards of $150,000 to $200,000 a year, and tinker with the Labour Code and employment and workplace safety standards in ways that will cause little widespread consternation.
What is more fascinating and most unnerving to the governing party is Dix’s cleverly unhidden agenda. The real scoop is this: Dix and the NDP are not just winning over the wallets of many so-called “free enterprisers,” they are also winning over their respect, their qualified trust and their good will to help as appropriate in developing better public policies, come what may. Which is to say, it is not just the B.C. Fed and all of the other “usual suspects” that are shaping the NDP’s platform; voices for positive change also hail from the most unlikely quarters. In boardrooms, ballrooms and backrooms across B.C., many people who never previously supported the NDP are now speaking directly to Dix and company to be heard as they prepare their platform.
What really worries the NDP’s frustrated critics is that Dix is actually listening in ways that are melting down the partisan suppositions, dispositions and misconceptions that fuel partisan fear and activism by preventing any potential for constructive engagement and discourse. Although he makes no bones about his ideological leanings, Dix is showing his smarts by taking the exact opposite course that Premier Christy Clark has chosen. He is learning to lead by listening openly to business and other community leaders who have much to say, teach and share when they are invited to meet. If it’s a schtick, it’s working, particularly for women voters, nearly 75 per cent of whom are now smiling back at Clark and saying, “no thanks” to her party.
Many British Columbians are tired of the polarized, partisan politics that has defined our “winner take all” approach to government. They want to believe that this time, just maybe, there is hope for new dialogue and a new meeting of the minds with whomever forms the next government. Currently, the odds are 10 to 1 that will be the NDP.
Forget about the pictures juxtaposing Dix’s image with Sinclair’s angry mug. Focus instead on the more surprising images of all those business leaders walking boldly by the cameras, or clapping politely in unison, as they come to listen and speak with the likely premier-in-waiting and his senior team at each major speech and unprecedented NDP fundraiser.
Most of them are not attending those luncheons and soirees to simply ingratiate themselves with the man who stands to form the next government. Some are, no doubt. For the most part, they are daring to show their interest in Dix, if not their support, for one overarching reason: they just want to build a better B.C. Many of those new NDP donors are also just tired of the eternal pendulum swings every time the government changes and the mindless militancy that creates more problems than it solves.
In today’s global economy, the structural challenges we face are so much greater than our capacity to answer them in isolation. The opportunities for social progress and sustainable economic growth similarly demand our collective input, effort and attention.
Those business types who are talking behind closed doors with the NDP are trying to open new doors that governments past and present locked shut. They are willing to lay down their guard, reach out for new relationships and work co-operatively and constructively with their ideological opposites in ways that are long overdue, no thanks to the likes of me or Dix, when we each served as senior advisers to our former bosses.
Though it may pain some in the NDP who want no truck or trade with those who typically support other parties, my guess is, Dix will be different if he forms the next government. Indeed, he seems prepared to accept help from across the spectrum, wherever he can get it, within limits that are no less applicable to his party faithful. Or maybe I’m just eternally naive and hopelessly idealistic in my increasingly ambivalent ideological mindset that is the product of learning the hard way how far from ideal our past approaches to government really are in best serving the public interest.
Martyn Brown, former premier Gordon Campbell’s chief of staff and a former B.C. deputy minister of tourism, trade and investment, is the author of the ebook, Towards A New Government In British Columbia.