If there is one demand that BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver should set as a non-negotiable, bottom line for any support of a minority government, it has to be cleaning up the province's immoral political culture.
If he were to do that alone, it would be an achievement the Greens could live on for quite some time.
Of course, we don't yet know for certain whether Liberal Leader Christy Clark is going to need the support of Mr. Weaver and his party's three seats to survive politically. Right now she does. After absentee ballots are tallied in a couple of weeks, she may not. Undoubtedly, the Liberals are praying they emerge from it all with a razor-thin majority because they are aware of how painful negotiating with the likes of the Greens will be.
Ms. Clark led arguably the most arrogant and entitled government in the country. Cronyism has thrived under hers and previous Liberal administrations. The corrosive effect it has had on B.C. politics can't be understated and it needs to be brought to an end.
Mr. Weaver has said that banning union and corporate donations is at the top of his list of measures he would request in exchange for his backing. This is good. Big money has to be taken out of politics in British Columbia. Right now, corporations (and to a much lesser extent, unions) and the province's wealthiest citizens, through their donations, are getting an outsized say in the outcome of elections.
The premier of a province should not be giving special access to citizens who fork over enough money. The fact this happens now is almost incomprehensible and anathema to what we know a functioning democracy should be. There has to be strict and reasonable limits on the amount any individual can donate to a political party; one that nullifies the advantage the rich currently have.
But that is only the beginning of what needs to take place in B.C. The Greens have to demand foreign donations be banned as well. The idea that industrialists from the likes of Malaysia and Singapore seeking approval for resource projects in B.C. can pour tens of thousands of dollars into the coffers of the governing party is frankly abhorrent. Why should foreign entities be having any say in the outcome of an election in B.C.?
Not surprisingly, the B.C. Liberals have expressed zero interest in outlawing this from happening. Perhaps, the Greens can summon some interest now.
But the cleanup of B.C.'s corrupt political culture needs to go further still, and extend to the lobbying industry, where conflicts of interest abound. You could see it up close during the recent election, where some of the province's most high-profile lobbyists played senior roles on the Liberal campaign, not just on the campaign bus alongside Ms. Clark but in the war room where important strategic decisions are being made.
Imagine: You have people helping the Liberals win an election, and then after victory is achieved, knocking on the doors of Liberal cabinet ministers asking for assistance on behalf of clients paying them tens of thousands of dollars for access they boast about having.
Earlier this year, a Globe and Mail investigation shed some light on the murky world of campaign donations in B.C., and revealed how lobbyists were not only donating tens of thousands of dollars to the very governing party they are lobbying, but also donating on behalf of unnamed clients, something that is illegal. The RCMP is now investigating. The Liberals, meantime, have returned more than $200,000 they since "discovered" was donated illegally.
The lobbyist industry in B.C. is a cesspool that has deep, deep roots in the Liberal party. Influence buying is not done in the backrooms in B.C., it is done in the open.
Prior to the election, Ms. Clark committed to having an independent panel look into campaign finance reform. Beyond that, she made no firm pledge to change the current laws. Meantime, her party continues to rake in millions in donations, largely from corporations and the province's wealthiest citizens who are not departing with their money without expecting some benefit in return.
If the final outcome of the 2017 election in B.C. is a minority government, the three-MLA Green party could have a capacious impact on the Clark government. But it has to insist on a complete cleanup of a political ecosystem that wouldn't be allowed to exist in Uzbekistan, let alone Canada.