Excerpt from the Official Report of


May 1, 2014

Remarks on Bill 21, the Local Elections Statutes Amendment Act

S. Simpson: I'll be very brief with this. I want to thank my colleague from Coquitlam-Maillardville for bringing this amendment forward. As a Vancouver member and one who's keenly followed and watched the municipal scene and been active in it, I've seen the effect of money.

It is true: Vancouver is a unique place. Maybe Surrey is getting there now. Maybe some other jurisdictions are getting there as they grow, but Vancouver is a place where money plays an inordinate role in local politics. Millions and millions of dollars are spent.

As my colleagues have said, there simply is no way, if you're not invested with people who can generate that money, that you're going to have any opportunity to be elected. We know the democratic processes, and we recognize them at the provincial and federal levels, where we do have spending limits in place, where we do have transparency around contributions and, in the case of the federal level, where they have put bans in place on certain types of donations — in that case, corporate and union donations — and put further limits in place.

Here, provincially, we deal with the matter, where we do truly have spending limits. It makes a difference. There's still enough money there for me to get my message out, but it's not just about money. It is about ideas. It is about candidates and the quality of candidates. Those things are bigger than the money at the provincial level. I believe that that's true, and it's true at the federal level.

It's not true in Vancouver. Money is a dominant force. As has been pointed out, this is not a partisan issue. Every major political organization in Vancouver understands what's happened there because of money and understands that money is hurting the democratic process in Vancouver. And they want the capacity to deal with that.

Vancouver is a sophisticated jurisdiction. It's a jurisdiction with lots of capacity to deal with this, to do it properly and to be politically accountable for it. A change to the charter would make Vancouver politically accountable for this. It would make the mayor, would make the political parties there, accountable to demonstrate their willingness to deal with this.

I would urge the minister to really just consider this one amendment. It would dramatically improve this legislation, I believe, and it would then allow the people of Vancouver to have a more fundamentally democratic process that is based on ideas, principles and values more than money. Sadly, today it's mostly based on money.


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