Campaign finance, the ALR, and the Lands

Frank Martens of Summerland, Friend of Garden City, writes:

The only way to stop the continued decimation of the ALR in BC is to make sure that people elected to our local governments will be impartial in any requests for exclusions of ALR properties.

Frank’s email message and a number of recent Richmond ones have urged input to BC’s Local Elections Task Force before April 15, 2010.

The main topic of concern is Campaign Finance. Patrick Smith and Kennedy Stewart of SFU wrote a major report on the topic, and they said this in the Vancouver Sun:

In terms of contributions, we recommend new municipal campaign finance laws should follow those found in the federal Accountability Act. Brought in . . . in 2006, this act bans all corporate and union contributions and sets strict limits for individual donors.

On the Garden City Lands issue, people have suggested that limits and the related fairness in campaign spending would have made a big difference. I see the effect as smaller but still a benefit for democracy and the protection of farmland.

Quite likely, for instance, Cynthia Chen, who just missed being re-elected in 2008, would have won under the proposed rules, beating out the candidate ahead of her. Certainly I found Coun. Chen to be in the top echelon in integrity, and I think she might have been on our side by now. At minimum, she would have been offering an honest point of view.

After thinking and reading about local and province-wide effects of change, I wrote the task force to encourage spending and contribution limits. I agree with Frank Martens that they would be good for the ALR and food security. Since they can be predicted to increase voter turnout, they would also lead to a stronger and more democratic community, which is something we have ended up working together for even though it’s not usually a stated goal of the Garden City Lands Coalition.

With time running short, it helps to be able to use the Local Election Task Force’s Email Feedback link and online Feedback Form. However, I found the best starting point was at http://www.thinkcity.ca/electoral_reform_email, where it was efficient to revise the sample message that was conveniently provided.

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