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Take corporate and union money out of local politics: Vision

Vision Vancouver, the political party that in 2008 collected more corporate and union cash than any other local party in B.C., will ask the province to ban corporate and union donations to local political campaigns.

"The premise of one-person, one-vote is fundamental to our democracy," Coun. Raymond Louie told The Tyee. "We feel that restricting campaign donations to the individual level is more consistent with that premise than what has been happening here in Vancouver."

The Vision caucus, which holds the majority on Vancouver City Council, will push for the ban at a meeting this Thursday. The request will become part of a list of campaign-reform recommendations will submit to an elections task force.

Vision Vancouver spent $1.9 million on its successful 2008 campaign, electing Mayor Gregor Robertson and seven councilors. Vision received significant donations from both corporate and union donors.

The rival Non-Partisan Association (NPA) spent $1 million and elected one councilor. The NPA relied heavily on corporate donations.

The Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), which campaigned in alliance with Vision, spent $346,000 and elected two councilors. COPE relied heavily on union donations.

“Our caucus feels strongly enough about this premise that, despite the challenges it will create for Vision Vancouver, we will push for a ban on corporate and union donations. We believe this is better for our democracy and for the electoral system,” said Louie, who also asked the province to look into campaign finance irregularities when he was in opposition.

Vision Vancouver initially called for a ban on corporate and union donations in 2007.

On this point, Vision will oppose the recommendation of an electoral reform sub-committee that includes NPA Coun. Suzanne Anton, COPE Coun. Ellen Woodsworth and Vision Coun. George Chow. In a report released last week, that sub-committee warned, “A strict ban on union and corporate donations could make it very difficult to run effective election campaigns in both highly populated areas as well as large rural municipalities."

Vancouver's 2005 municipal election was the most expensive on record. The city's three leading political parties reported spending a combined total of more than $4 million. That's $30 per vote, which is six times the amount spent per vote in the 2005 provincial election. No other major city in Canada operates under a similar system.

Monte Paulsen reports for The Tyee.

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