Next premier brought to you by…

My wife remarked the other day she doesn’t like the fact arenas, art galleries and other public venues are now “sponsored” buildings with a corporate name and logo dominating and permeating the facility. It led to a discussion of how the Save On Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria managed to keep “memorial” in the title – are we memorializing Save On Foods or is Save On Foods corporately memorializing our veterans on our behalf?

My wife remarked the other day she doesn’t like the fact arenas, art galleries and other public venues are now “sponsored” buildings with a corporate name and logo dominating and permeating the facility. It led to a discussion of how the Save On Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria managed to keep “memorial” in the title – are we memorializing Save On Foods or is Save On Foods corporately memorializing our veterans on our behalf?

The slow creep of corporatization has certainly accelerated over the past decade. We’ve become accustomed to corporate sponsored public buildings, teams, textbooks, public events, fundraising efforts, etc. Recent events in B.C. should give us pause to consider if it’s now past time we put a stop to the influence corporations have on our political process by demanding that every leadership candidate in both BC’s major political parties commit publicly and specifically to election finance reform.

The “sponsorship” of Kevin Falcon by Clearly Contacts (the company, which benefitted from a policy change Mr. Falcon made as Health Minister, not only donated to his campaign but used its corporate e-mail list to push people to join the Liberal party and vote for him as leader) seems to me to “clearly” signal we need to end corporate donations (that includes unions) to political parties, leadership contenders and candidates.

The direct payment of the salary of the NDP’s president by some unions and the “sponsorship” of NDP leadership candidate Adrian Dix by one of BC’s largest unions is further evidence of the need for dramatic change now. The suspicion that big donors are buying influence over politicians and public policy may or may not be founded in reality, but we don’t need to keep feeding the deepening cynicism about politics and politicians by allowing this practice to continue – we should simply disallow businesses, unions, and other large organizations from donating to political parties.

Election finance reform should also limit donations from individuals, not allow numbered companies and anonymous individuals to donate, and speed up the time frame for the public reporting on who is donating to whom.

Our democracy is supposed to be based on “one person, one vote.” This fundamental and essential principle is undermined by the current ability of large organizations and the wealthy to influence the outcome of our elections (and potentially public policy) with large sums of money.

Bob Simpson is Independent MLA for Cariboo North.