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New electoral finance reform campaign alleges corporate censorship

A new campaign calling for an overhaul of British Columbia's electoral finance laws has been censored by a top BC Liberal party donor, the campaign's director alleges.

Integrity BC, which describes itself as a non-partisan political advocacy group, launched its "Who Really Runs BC?" campaign across British Columbia today, taking out two transit shelter ads in West Vancouver.

But according to Integrity BC executive director Dermod Travis, Pattison Outdoor refused to run the ad, claiming that it does not comply with lease regulations or with Canadian Advertising Standards rules and regulations.

The two shelter ads, located on West Broadway and West 4th St. in Vancouver, are being displayed instead by CBS Outdoor. Similar ads also ran today in the Nanaimo Daily News and Kamloops Daily News.

Integrity BC is calling for an absolute ban on corporate, union, or other third-party donations to political parties or campaigns throughout the province. The group is also pushing for a cap on individual donations and the creation of "citizen assembly," which would produce a set of binding resolutions on additional reforms.

Pattison Outdoor, Canada's largest out-of-doors advertising company, is owned by Jim Pattison.

According to Travis, Jim Pattison's Great Pacific Capital Corporation donated $208,000 to the BC Liberal party in 2010.

"This is simply a really dumb political decision," says Travis of Pattison Outdoor's decision not to run the ad. "I hesitate to call it deliciously ironic."

Pattison Outdoor vice president Rob Hunt refused to comment on this story.

Ben Christopher reports for The Tyee.

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