British Columbians Ready to Take Big Money Out of Politics

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Across the province, 86% of residents support a ban on corporate and union political donations.

Vancouver, B.C. – Voters in British Columbia believe corporations have outsized influence in determining government policy, thanks in part to unlimited political donations, a new poll by Insights West has found.

The online survey of a representative province-wide sample was sponsored by Dogwood Initiative, a B.C. citizen group calling on the province to “Ban Big Money” in politics. It found that 86% of British Columbians would support a ban on corporate and union donations before the next election, including 81% of BC Liberal voters and 91% who last voted for the BC New Democratic Party (NDP).

“The level of support for all of the ideas included in the questionnaire includes majorities of British Columbians and supporters of the province’s main political parties,” said Mario Canseco, Vice President of Public Affairs at Insights West. “BC Liberal voters support a ban on corporate donations, and New Democrat voters support a ban on union donations.”

British Columbia is the last large province in Canada to allow unlimited donations from anywhere in the world, including in municipal elections. Survey results suggest this has left the public deeply cynical about the position of ordinary citizens in democracy.

Respondents were asked to rank different groups based on how influential they seem to be in shaping policy in our province. Corporations were the clear winner with 47% of residents ranking them number one. Next came lobbyists, foreign investors and unions, with citizens in fifth place.

“By refusing to wean their parties off big money, Christy Clark and John Horgan are making the situation worse,” said Kai Nagata, Communications Director at Dogwood. “How can citizens trust either the Liberals or the NDP to make decisions in the public interest when they rely on cash from construction unions, Alberta oil companies or foreign billionaires?”

Appetite for an overhaul of B.C.’s election financing laws is strong across the province. Only 10% of residents agreed with the statement: “Corporations and unions should be allowed to spend as much money as they want to help politicians win elections.”

In addition, 77% of British Columbians said it’s time for a ban on out-of-province donations and 76% said they would support a cap on personal contributions. Respondents who favour a cap were asked to name an annual limit for the amount a person should be able to donate to a political party. The average response was $709, which is less than half the limit at the federal level.

Vancouver City council will vote on May 3 on a motion to call for a referendum on political financing, as part of the next election ballot in 2017. “Looking at these polling numbers, a referendum shouldn’t be necessary,” said Nagata. “But if provincial politicians dig in their heels, that may be the only way to force a change.”

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

About Dogwood Initiative:

Dogwood brings together everyday British Columbians to reclaim decision-making power over our environment and democracy. From trade deals to port reform, oil tankers to sustainable forestry, Dogwood has been helping local people stand up for their communities since 1999.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from April 18 to April 21, 2016, among 803 adult British Columbians. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error, which measures sample variability, is ±3.5 percentage points for each sample, nineteen times out of twenty. Click here to view the detailed data tabulations and here to view the report.

For further information, please contact:

Mario Canseco
Vice President, Public Affairs, Insights West
778-929-0490
mariocanseco@insightswest.com

Kai Nagata
Communications Director, Dogwood Initiative
778-829-6493
kai@dogwoodinitiative.org