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UBCM to consider local campaign finance reform

The last refuge of hidden money in B.C. politics could be wiped away in time for the next municipal election, if delegates to this week’s Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention pass a resolution calling on the provincial government to limit the amount of money that can be spent in local elections — and if the provincial government acts on the UBCM request.

The proposed resolution asks the province to set limits on both the amount of money that individuals (or organizations) can give to local candidates (or organizations) as well as the amount of money that can be spent. In addition, the resolution calls for a ban on money "from sources outside of Canada."

The motion, which could come before the UBCM as early as this afternoon, was introduced by Vancouver City Councillor Ellen Woodsworth.

"Campaign expenditures by parties and individuals have grown exponentially over the last couple of elections. It's crucial that voters know where this money is coming from,” Woodsworth told The Tyee.

The Tyee published a 2007 investigative series about B.C.’s municipal campaign finance problem entitled City Hall for Sale.

And in 2008, The Tyee revealed how a society connected to former Mayor Sam Sullivan effectively concealed the identity of some donors. The province refused to investigate that incident, stating that it would only consider a request from UBCM.

"Provincial and federal elections have campaign ceilings,” Woodsworth said. “It only makes sense that we'd have similar legislation at the municipal level."

Monte Paulsen reports for The Tyee.

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